Narrows bridge toll on track for an increase

Government: Rates set into place last year when commission approved 50-cent hike

of the GatewayJanuary 15, 2014 

The Citizen Advisory Committee met last week to discuss an impending 25-cent toll on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and the committee heard from the state Department of Transportation as part of the workshop.

Craig Stone, an assistant secretary for WSDOT’s toll division, said traffic has been holding steady at 14 million drivers a year.

He said the department has looked into the effect of higher tolls on traffic rates. For the most part, toll hikes don’t drop traffic significantly.

“You raise a price, you’re going to dampen the usage,” Stone said. “(But) when we did the dollar increase (in 2009), we expected more of a drop than we really saw.”

The increase was set in place last year, when the state Transportation Commission decided on a two-year, 25-cent-per-year hike. The first quarter raise came last July, and the next hike would be July 1.

The advisory committee does not take action on tolls but advises the statewide commission on whether changes are necessary.

There are several toll transactions for the bridge. Of those, Good to Go! accounts for 71 percent of transactions, while the toll booth accounts for 24 percent and pay-by-mail accounts for 2 percent. The rest of the payments are either still in process, unbillable or civil penalties.

Unbillable transactions are those where the technology cannot capture a license plate or there is no billing address, Stone said.

“You almost have to be an accountant to figure out what’s going on here,” committee chairman Alan Weaver said.

The governor-appointed committee currently has seven members. Two spots remain open.

The committee’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Gig Harbor Civic Center.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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