The Washington State Transportation Commission announced Tuesday it is proposing an increase in toll rates for drivers using the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The commission is proposing a 25-cent increase in 2013 and an additional 25-cent increase in 2014. The new toll rates would take effect on July 1 each year. The proposed toll rates to take effect July 1, 2013 are $4.25 for Good To Go!; $5.25 cash; and $6.25 Pay By Mail.
A public meeting to gather comments on the proposal is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mon., April 15, at the Gig Harbor Civic Center, located at 3510 Grandview Street. The commission will not take action at this meeting. A final hearing, where the commission will take additional public comment and plan to take action to adopt new toll rates, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Mon., May 20, at the Gig Harbor Civic Center.
In addition to the public meetings, comments can be submitted to the commission in writing via e-mail or mail. E-mail comments can be sent to email@example.com. Written comments can be mailed to the Washington State Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308.
The commission is required by law to set toll rates for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in an amount that is sufficient to pay the debt for the bridge, as well as to pay costs related to maintenance, preservation and operations of the bridge. According to the Washington State Transportation Commission, the bridge was financed with an escalating debt structure to minimize the initial toll rates and impact on bridge users. Debt payments started out low when the bridge opened to traffic in 2007 and are now rising steeply, requiring additional toll revenue each year to pay the escalating obligation, according to the Washington State Transportation Commission. Over the next four fiscal years, debt service payments are expected to grow from $45 million in 2013 to $70 million in 2017, according to the commission.
The commission evaluates several factors during the toll-setting process, including bridge expenses that are paid for by toll revenue, trends in traffic volumes, the schedule for bond payments, ending balances in the toll revenue account, the rate recommendations from the governor-appointed Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee and public input.
More information is available online at wstc.wa.gov.