OLYMPIA -- The recommended $3.50 peak-hour toll for State Route 520 is being considered in the state legislature for a legislative vote, after state senators and representatives introduced bills Monday to enact the tolls.
The Washington State Transportation Commission last month recommended a $3.50 peak-hour toll, but the newly passed Initiative 1053 meant that the legislature had to affirm the recommendation with a majority vote before the state could start collecting.
Both bills, House Bill 1887 and Senate Bill 5700, note strong voter support for I-1053, which passed in November and requires that fee increases receive a majority vote in the legislature. State Attorney General Rob McKenna wrote in a letter shortly after the November election that the initiative applies to tolls.
The Senate bill is scheduled to be heard before the Senate Committee on Transportation at 3:30 p.m. today (Feb. 8).
The Washington State Transportation Commission by a vote of 5-0, with two vacancies, that the peak-hour toll rate would be $3.50 in both directions for commuters who participate in the state's electronic tolling system, called Good-to-Go. The toll would be variable depending on the time of day.
For those drivers who do not purchase a pre-paid pass, the state plans to collect toll by mail, and those drivers would be charged $1.50 above the cost of the toll. For those drivers, the total amount would be $5 in either direction during the peak hour.
Department of Transportation officials have said that the toll is being put in place both to help pay for () and also helps to - though some are concerned that the new fee could cause drivers to crowd streets in Bellevue and interstates 405 and 90 in an attempt to dodge tolls ().
The bills must pass by a majority vote in the legislature in order for the toll to be enacted. Both bills have a clause that the tolls will be enacted immediately once passed.
The house bill was sponsored by Eastside representatives Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), Marcie Maxwell (D-Renton) and Ross Hunter (D-Medina) along with representative Mike Armstrong (R-Wenatchee). The Senate bill was sponsored by state senators Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) and Curtis King (R-Yakima). Haugen is the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Transporation and King is the Ranking Minority Member of that committee.
The toll is slated to start in spring. The last day of the regular legislative session is April 24.
For more information on how the proposed toll schedule and how it will be collected, click here on Bellevue Patch.