Seattle adjusts to new toll on SR 520 bridge

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Truckers can expect to pay anywhere from nothing to $12.50 to cross the SR 520 floating bridge in Seattle depending on the time of day and the payment method they choose. The state DOT put tolls on the existing bridge to raise money for a new one.

Seattle’s floating bridge dates back to 1963. Officials estimate they’ll need to spend $4.65 billion to replace it and make additional improvements to SR 520 between Interstate 5 and SR 202.

The new toll took effect Dec. 29, 2011.

A five-axle truck crossing between midnight and 5 a.m. pays no toll. Non-peak traffic times like 5 to 6 a.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. on weekdays carry a truck toll of $4 to $7.75 depending on the payment method the customer chooses. Peak times of 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. will cost truckers between $8.75 and $12.50 depending on the choice of payment. Weekend rates range from free to $9.25.

Seattle received a federal grant in 2007 to implement “congestion pricing” to help manage traffic levels and raise revenue.

State officials have already acknowledged that the SR 520 tolls will cause some traffic to divert to I-90 to get across Lake Washington. Traffic engineers issued a statement on Monday, Jan. 2, urging caution and patience for drivers experiencing heavier traffic conditions on I-90 and I-405.

For those who use the bridge and pay the toll, having a “Good to go!” pass from the state DOT is the cheapest method. Rates with the pass range from free overnight to a peak price of $8.75 during rush hours.

Without a “Good to go!” pass, a customer will be charged the toll-by-plate rate, which involves a camera system and invoices sent to vehicle owners. Toll-by-plate customers pay 25 cents more per toll than the “Good to go!” pass rate.

Then there are the processing fees. A customer must add a $3.50 processing fee per invoice if paying through the mail, while a customer that sets up a pre-pay account will pay a fee of $3 per invoice.

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