The magic time and date for the start of tolling of the State Route 520 Bridge: 5 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29.
That date was announced Wednesday, linking Seattle and the Eastside at Medina.
According to the WSDOT, the toll system’s components have been tested and retested since summer to ensure they can collect data at highway speeds and create transactions for the more than 100,000 vehicles that cross the bridge daily. WSDOT also brought in national tolling experts to review the system, and expanded its customer service support, according to a WSDOT press release.
The tolls are part of the $2.37 billion that the state is raising for the State Route 520 improvement project that would , widen the freeway, , and create carpool lanes in both directions.
Instead of toll booths, the tolls will be paid through , which is a system that uses electronic transponders attached to vehicles to debit motorists' accounts. Vehicles that don't have the transponders will have photos taken of their license plate, adn then will be billed through the mail, Matkin said.
The toll schedule includes a $3.50-peak hour toll in both ways, but the toll will vary depending on the hour, so it will be less than that at non-peak hour times. Motorists without a Good to Go account will pay a $1.50 fee every time they cross the bridge, according to the state.
The state has a number of options for Good to Go accounts.
The toll is expected to rise 10 cents a year between 2012 and 2016, so drivers would be paying a peak hour toll of $3.90 by 2016.
The city of Bellevue officials have spoken with the state to delay the toll until after the Christmas shopping season.
State officials have advised motorists to obtain the Good to Go Pass before the tolls start.
The e Good To Go! call center has activated more than 120,000 new accounts since February, according to the WSDOT, but Toll Division Director Craig Stone expects there will flood of requests into customer service as many drivers have yet to set up their accounts.
“We know from our Tacoma Narrows Bridge experience that we can expect long lines and wait times as customers rush to set up their Good To Go! accounts,” Stone said in a prepared statement. “We’re taking steps to prepare for this surge to get as many people on board as soon as possible. Even so, we’re asking people to be patient.”
To prepare for the anticipated high volumes of customers registering and activating accounts this month, WSDOT has extended call center hours and hired extra customer service staff, according to a press release.
The WSDOT had .
However, commuters will be able to purchase the transponders in person at any Safeway, QFC, and , and at a customer service center in Bellevue at 13107 NE 20th Street, Suites 3 & 4, Bellevue. Customers also can establish an account online at mygoodtogo.com
The State Route 520 Project
Overall, the tolls are part of a $4.65 billion plan to improve SR 520. The state legislature decided that $2.37 billion of the amount will be paid through state and federal funding and tolls. The rest has yet to be determined.
The project will:
- Widen SR 520 and create carpool lanes in both directions.
- Widen the shoulders, so disabled vehicles will not block the lanes of traffic.
- Create three landscaped lids over SR 520, two with access to new transit stops.
- Add a bike and pedestrian lane to SR 520.
- Create environmental improvements, including improvements to streams and noise barriers.