Wash. Transportation Commission to consider TNB tolls, revenue forecast

Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls and the latest transportation review forecast will be among the topics of discussion when the Washington State Transportation Commission meets this week in Olympia.

The meeting will be held Weds., April 22, at the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Avenue SE in Olympia, starting at 9 a.m. and adjourning at 12:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and people wishing to address the Commission may do so during the public comment period scheduled for 10:15 a.m.

Washington State Department of Transportation staff will present the most recent traffic and revenue data for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Last December, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the Commission that the current toll rates of $2.75 for Good To Go! electronic tolls and $4 for cash tolls be maintained through June 30, 2010. Based on traffic and revenue projections for December and February that were below expectations, the Commission proposed raising the Good To Go! electronic toll rate to $3.25, leaving the $4 cash toll rate the same. This latest proposal was assessed by the Citizen Advisory Committee, who will report back to the Commission with its recommendations on the proposed increase. The Commission continues to monitor traffic volumes to determine whether revenue collections are sufficient to meet bond payment obligations and other bridge costs required to be paid for with toll revenue.

The Commission will be given an overview of the revenue changes in the latest transportation revenue forecast and the primary reasons for those changes. On March 19, a new transportation revenue forecast was adopted by the Transportation Revenue Forecast Council. The revenue projections in the March 2009 forecast showed a decline in nearly all transportation revenues from the November 2008 forecast. For the current biennium, the total transportation revenue dropped by $53 million (1.3 percent) over the prior forecast to $4.07 billion. For the 2009-11 biennium, total revenue is projected to decline by $94 million (2.1 percent) over the November 2008 forecast.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is an independent state agency that provides a public forum for transportation policy development. As the state tolling authority, the Commission sets tolls for state highways and bridges and fares for Washington State Ferries. The seven-member board is comprised of private citizens who are appointed by the Governor for six-year terms.