Toll bill in the works in Washington state

| 11/30/2007

Truck drivers and motorists in Washington would have to keep their wallets handy while traveling in the state, if leading lawmakers in the state get their way.

Key legislators at the statehouse say charging highway users a fee isn’t too far down the road. They want to send legislation to the governor during the next regular session that would create a framework for collecting tolls, Northwest Public Radio reported.

The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge already is tolled. A new Highway 520 floating bridge between Seattle and Bellevue would also be tolled.

Transportation leaders at the capitol predict tolling to be more widespread in the state’s not-too-distant future. They cite Puget Sound voters’ rejection this month of a massive roads and transit funding measure.

Proposition 1 was intended to improve traffic congestion in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. By an overall margin of 45 percent in favor and 55 percent opposed, voters opted not to increase sales and vehicle taxes for transportation improvements.

Senate Transportation Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen said there is no denying that tolling is in the state’s future.

Along with House Transportation chairwoman Judy Clibborn, she is drafting legislation for consideration during the session that begins Jan. 14, 2008, that would give the Washington Legislature authority to impose tolls on unspecified roads and bridges. An appointed panel would set the rates that could continue to be collected after a project is paid off.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Washington in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor