The Washington State Department of Transportation announced its SR 520 electric tolling program is performing better than it expected a year after implementation, generating money for a vital bridge project in Seattle.
WSDOT began early tolling of the aging floating bridge to help fund a $4.13 billion replacement project. The all-electronic collection system features variable toll rates. The state has collected about $50 million in revenue in the first year of tolling, which shows the project is on target to raise the $1 billion WSDOT expects from the tolls to assist in bridge construction.
"We faced challenges along the way, but through hard work and dedication, SR 520 tolling is a success," said WSDOT Toll Division Assistant Secretary Craig Stone in a statement. "Thanks to early tolling, we are already collecting revenue to fund the ongoing construction of a replacement bridge. Moreover, variable tolling is giving drivers a more reliable trip across the bridge. We are right on target."
While WSDOT saw a 48 percent drop in SR 520 traffic immediately after the tolling began as drivers found alternative routes to avoid paying tolls, traffic has since steadily returned to about 70 percent of pre-tolling traffic volume. However, WSDOT officials stressed the need to keep that momentum up.
"We've made a lot of progress this first year so it's more important now than ever that we stay our course," said Stone. "We're headed in the right direction, but remember this is just the first year of a 30-year plan."
More information on WSDOT's SR 520 tolling project is available at bit.ly/SR520project.