What will you do when the 520 bridge tolls go into effect?
BELLEVUE - Starting next year, a trip across the SR 520 bridge in Seattle will likely cost between $3.50 and $5.00 each way during peak periods.
That tentative decision by the Washington State Transportation Commission came down Tuesday. Tolling on 520 will likely begin in spring of 2011.
The $3.50 price tag is only for drivers who sign up for a "Good to Go" tolling accounts. Drivers without an account will get a bill in the mail for $5.00 per trip. There will be no toll booths.
That means a $7 to $10 round trip for drivers on the bridge. For a regular commuter, that's about $140 per month. Some drivers say that's enough for them to drive out of their way to avoid the new tolls.
"I would avoid the bridge like the plague at those prices," said one driver.
"They should take into consideration that people aren't taking the bridge to go play to Seattle or go play to Bellevue," said another.
But one driver says he may actually pay the toll, if the price scares away all the traffic.
"Sometimes you'll get on the 520. Then I may pay the $3.50" he said.
The decision by the Washington State Transportation Commission adopts the lower numbers suggested by analysts with the department. The other option would have put the Good to Go toll 30 cents higher at $3.80.
But commission Chairman Phil Parker from Clark County says it's important to recognize that this is a proposal by the commission, so this number is not written in stone.
There will be two more public hearings, one on December 6 in Seattle and the other on December 7 in Bellevue regarding the decision. A final decision won't be set until January 5.
What about the impact from initiative 1053, which passed in this month's election and requires the legislature to have a two-thirds majority on tax hikes, and a majority on raising other state charges?
Monday, there was a battle of words between I-1053 sponsor Tim Eyman and department commissioners over whether or not I-1053 applied to ferry fares. Tuesday, Chairman Parker said he sought legal review from Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna as to whether I-1053 applies to the toll.
Eyman was back Tuesday, and during a public comment period, said the state was going "fee happy." There were no shots fired back by the commissioners.
KING 5's Glenn Farley and Elisa Hahn contributed to this report.