Washington governor interested in more tolling

| 2/12/2007

Gov. Christine Gregoire is asking lawmakers in Washington state to consider more transportation projects that would be funded by tolls.

The governor's request is a revival of the public-private program that led to the construction of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Gregoire is interested in spending $2 million for the Washington Department of Transportation to determine whether to partner with private contractors to design and build new road and bridge projects. Projects could include widening Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, a new bridge over the Columbia River between Vancouver and Portland, and a 520 replacement span across Lake Washington, The Associated Press reported.

The governor and state transportation officials say that without tapping into privatization the state won't be able to complete some projects.

Officials with WSDOT and consultants have said nearly all drivers traveling over the mountains on I-90 would be willing to pay a $1 to $6 fee, with trucks paying the most, the Ellensburg Daily reported.

If legislators approve the governor's request, a WSDOT spokesperson told The AP the state will invite builders to submit ideas later this year and the agency will evaluate them in 2008.