Tolling on the heavily-traveled Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, which carries State Route 520 across Lake Washington, is finally set to begin for real later this month after months of delays, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced this morning, making good on a promise to set a start date.
“Tolling is helping Washington move forward with critical transportation investments and will finance ongoing and future work to replace the vulnerable SR 520 floating bridge and corridor ‚” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond in a news release. “SR 520 toll revenue will provide $1 billion to fund pontoon construction in Grays Harbor, and floating bridge construction and improvements on the Eastside, which already are under way. Starting tolling before the new bridge is built is keeping financing costs down.”
Effective 5 AM on December 29th, 2011, a toll will be charged to cross from Evergreen Point to Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood (or vice versa). Tolls will be variable, meaning that the rate will depend on when the trip is made. The highest toll will be charged during rush hour (7–9 AM in the morning, 3 PM to 6 PM in the evening). Drivers with Good to Go! passes will pay $1.50 less for each crossing, which adds up to considerable savings over time.
(If you don’t have a Good to Go! pass, learn more about getting one).
Tolls will be collected electronically using cameras and scanners mounted in the bridge’s east truss. The scanners will read Good to Go! passes and automatically deduct the correct toll, while the cameras will photograph license plates so the state can send bills to the registered owner of the vehicle.
There won’t be any toll booths.
Tolls will be collected on the existing bridge for the remainder of its life, to help pay for the new bridge, which is supposed to open in 2014.
The state anticipates that some motorists who currently use SR 520 on a regular basis will begin using Interstate 90 to avoid the toll. That would make I‑90 across Lake Washington more congested. But it may lessen rush hour backups on SR 520, resulting in a smoother commute for those who choose to pay the bridge toll.