Letters to the Editor

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NARROWS BRIDGE: Outrageous fine for first offense

Letter by Catherine M. Link, Puyallup on Sep. 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm with 33 Comments »
September 7, 2010 4:26 pm

After a wonderful day on the Penisula, my friend and I pulled over at a gas station to prepare to have the necessary $4 toll to get over the Narrows Bridge. I got back on state Route 16, looking for the toll booths, which I saw in the distance. All of a sudden, I realized that I had to exit off of the freeway to access the toll booths!

They don’t do this in Chicago or at the Sea-Tac airport. I tried to merge over, but the congestion made it unsafe to move over in time. I looked miserably at the toll booths as we passed by, and I even considered going up the down ramp of the toll booths, just to avoid the $50 fine I have heard about.

I feel like I’ve been tricked! I had every intention to pay the toll, and I am forced by my ignorance (or stupidity if you want to look at it that way) to pay a huge $52 fine. This is literally highway robbery by the government.

We need to stop cities and counties from revenue-making by imposing outrageous fines for camera-detected infractions. This is fundamentally wrong! When our only recourse is spending more time and money fighting the fine, we just pay it. That is what the cities and counties bank on us doing. This unjust tactic needs to be stopped!

Leave a comment Comments → 33
  1. huffington says:

    I just returned from Chicago, and can say that yes you do have to exit to pay the toll, the same as here. Sorry, cheating is cheating. Now pay your fine.

  2. coldone says:

    Must not be any signs for left laners to keep right when paying tolls with real money?

  3. Subquote: “I’m from Chicago, and they’ll never bother to collect” !

    Pay the fine d-bag, and grow up !

  4. With all the signage before the tollbooths, this driver needs to pay attention to her driving. This oblivious driver is a hazard to those of us who take seriously the steering of a 2 ton vehicle at highway speeds.

  5. I boycott the harbor. Embargo on!

  6. Sumner401 says:

    “All of a sudden”?
    You didn’t all the signs telling you that cash payments were to the right and ‘good to go on the left?
    I’m guessing you are one of those ‘fast lane’ drivers.
    Pay the fine and stop whining, you sound like a republican.

  7. A321196 says:

    You even considered going up the down ramp to avoid the fine? Are you for real? You’d be the guest of the State of Washington for vehicular homicide.

  8. Welcome to the POLICE State of Washington. If Orwell only knew !

  9. How much do you pay in a year, overall for your car ad…. er…pleasure of driving.

  10. Why is it the only people who whine and protest the “high cost” of a mistake are the people who weren’t paying attention in the first place and committed the error? Living by the rules takes attention; driving a car takes attention! That’s a two-ton murder machine, and not being fully cognizant of what you are doing and where you are will get someone killed.

    Pay the fine, and, next time, pay attention!

  11. pazzo242 says:

    So you KNEW the toll was coming and you KNEW there was a heafty fine for missing the toll booth soooooo you DIDN’T prepare for this LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG before you got there. You were right—you were stupid and that is the only way to look at it. Pay the fine and quit bi…hing!

  12. Kevindot1 says:

    Pay up, quit whining, and thanks for helping to pay for our new bridge! :)

  13. Novelist3 says:

    Must have been a slow letters day to publish such a petulant whine. I drive over the bridge through quite a bit of traffic frequently and have never, ever been in a situation where I couldn’t get to one of the toll lanes.

  14. “Pay the fine and stop whining, you sound like a republican.”

    But not like a conservative. More like a Sumner, or a muslim who’s about to hear about the “Holy quaran” being burned as is regularly done with a bible or a US flag in Iran. Hypocrisy much?

  15. johnearl says:

    Highway Robbery is not paying a $52 fine. Highway robbery is paying over $2500 in the last two years because people on the east side of the bridge voted that people on the west side of the bridge should pay a toll to use their only connecting highway.

    I hope you weren’t expecting a lot of sympathy.

  16. CRB9000 says:

    Wrong, buckwheat, you do generally have to “exit” or move over for tolls in other places. Perhaps reading the signs would serve you well?

  17. Flanagan says:

    Sorry about your error, but at least you didn’t “last minute” change lanes and endanger the lives of others as I have seen from time to time, nearly causing an accident for me and others. I am surprised that you missed it and if you had been traveling in the outside lade the way you’re supposed to, unless passing, you would have been in position to exit. I am surprised at how many people stay in the passing lane which is against the law.

  18. fatuous says:

    Catherine, you should have called within 7 days and set up a Good To Go account. That eliminates the fine, and saves you a few dollars.

    Q: What do I do if I missed a toll?
    A: Drivers who do not pay the toll as they cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge can contact customer service within 7 days to set up a Good To Go! account and pay the toll before a violation is issued. If a Good To Go! account is not set up with 7 days, a violation of $52.00 will be issued to the vehicles registered owner.


  19. As you’ve pointed out, Flanagan, there are risks associated with exiting for toll booths. Denver has changed to a Non-Stop system. A photo is taken of the license plate and the registered owner is sent a bill for toll charges. The only fines are for late payment. Transponder users get a 10% break.

    I realize that the excuses from those who have missed the toll booths at the Narrows Bridge can sound lame, but the impending fine of $50 for missing a $4 toll booth can cause someone to make a gross error in judgment and cause a life threatening accident.

    It’s time for Washington to take Denver’s lead and get rid of those toll booths, as safety is the greater issue, here.

  20. This letter must have been printed as a joke. And everyone has already taken the wind out of my sails!

    How many signs and how big do they need to be for people to get it? And what IS the deal with hairbrained numbskulls who cruise along in the fast lane only to panic at the last minute and cut across multiple lanes of traffic! And THEN you get the noodles who once they DO manage to get off the freeway, don’t know enough about toll booths to find the fastest moving lane! And then we get to watch them in a vain attempt to correctly merge back onto the freeway!

    And then Ms Catherine Link proclaims that she TRIED to merge over but congestion made it impossible. Ever think about LOOKING AHEAD and PLANNING Ms. Link? Maybe you should change your name to Last Minute Lucy!

    I will say that comment about backing up the on ramp was priceless, and good for some morning merriment! What were you thinking of? Backing into the booth, under the barrier!! HAAA!

  21. ratujack says:

    The State DOT have again prostituted their engineering principals to save money. The curve IS dangerous. I stay on the far left lane when going around the corner because many times someone panicked and fish tailed over to the right in front of me and just barely make the tolls. There is an on ramp at the curve wanting to merge and a full curve that suddenly shows the booths and lanes. Only government can get away with that. That’s one expensive prostitute. They should have condemed some of the curve and made it straightr.

  22. nwcolorist says:

    There seems to be two kinds of people – those who put their brains to good use, and the rest of us, who need to learn by touching the hot stove.

    And, hey, $52 isn’t that bad. It could be a lot higher.

  23. coldone says:

    Took a google street view drive towards the “Toll Plaza”.

    Two signs furthest away are blurred so nothing from them in this case.
    Appears the far left lane is a marked HOV lane. Her and a friend would be the proper lane.
    I don’t think there is an indication that you have to exit to pay a toll until the very last sign.
    My last experience with a toll road was 30 years ago and there was no exit to pay toll. If I wasn’t local I would have no idea from past experience that I would actually have to leave the main road to pay a toll when others are bypassing.

    No mileage or distance to exit given on two nearest signs to toll booths.
    For HOV users how about small signs on the center divider that say Exit Right 2 miles and then 1 mile for toll booth?
    How easy is it to read the overhead signs in the morning bright sun?

    Wonder if they have ever run a survey on why people don’t pay?
    Could there be a signage problem for tourists and out of town folks?

    If you drive a normal car in heavy traffic how in the heck do you look ahead when you are surrounded with SUVs and trucks?

  24. olympicmtn says:

    We got two $52 fines because our payment online was NOT in the state’s system until MONDAY!!!!!!

    Imagine having a pass and the state saying you now have two fines. We pay as we go online BECAUSE the first credit card we used was ONLY used for the Narrows Tolls and guess what some guy in California stole the visa number and used it to buy computers. We tracked it to the ONE AND ONLY credit card we used for tolls only and noted it was the State of Washington’s online system that is not secure!!!

    So for all those people who use their cc card online for the state — BUYER BEWARE.

  25. All this whining about not getting enough notice! Sheesh!

    How about some common sense?

    Even if there were no sign other than something that just said “toll booth ahead” wouldn’t common sense indicate that just in case you DID have to leave the highway to get to the booth you’d do it to the right, so that getting yourself IN the right lane ahead of the pack of last minute idiots would have you safely in place to get that done?

    I am simply amazed at the sheer volume of bozos who are completely incapable of looking far enough down the road in a simple case of advance planning. In some places they call that nothing more than mature, responsible handling of a motor vehicle..something that is all too foreign to the minds of Washington State “drivers”!

  26. If yoiu think $52 bucks is outrageous, try driving past a cop sans seat belt.

  27. george82331 says:

    There is an abundance of warning signs, long before passing the toll lanes. One could also immediately contact the toll bridge authority and pay the toll rather than pouting and writing a letter to the editor.

  28. Catherine,
    I am so glad that you had a wonderful time on the Peninsula and I hope you will not hold bitterness against our Peninsula communities over this tolling situation. Come back and visit us often.

    I was raised in Chicago and return to visit fairly often. I can verify that there are toll plazas there that require motorists to actually exit the highway. I guess this is the new style. The first time I encountered one it was a little disconcerting, but there wasn’t much traffic and I was able to make some more lane changes.

    I did not know until I read the other comments that you could get a Good to Go account within 7 days and avoid the fine. I noted that in Illinois one gets a 7 day grace period on paying a missed toll before they issue a violation. One can pay it online. I think that is a better way to handle visitors who don’t need the I-Pass account which is the equivalent of our Good to Go.

    Anyway, I think you should still call the Good to Go people and throw yourself upon their mercy. It says on their website that it is against the law to forgive a violation, but maybe they can extend the grace period a little for you. With more and more toll-based projects coming along you will probably end up needing an account.

  29. beerBoy says:

    Driving is a privilege. And, as is true with other laws, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

  30. Sumner401 says:

    I’ve never been through a toll booth that you didn’t have to exit to pay cash.
    WA, CA, IL, NY, MA, PA, OK and even KS.
    You have to exit to pay cash and the cash lanes are always on the far right.

  31. Haaa!!! Oh Sumner!! Stop that! You should know that posting FACT just stirs them up! :D

  32. surething says:

    There are signs that tell you to get over before the toll booths.

  33. burleyroader1 says:

    Um, Catherine, just a thought. You had a wonderful day on the peninsula. So you went west on 16 to get there in the first place? I guess you didn’t notice or were too busy chatting away to see the big toll plaza on the eastbound side of 16 just west of the bridge? That was/is the toll plaza. If you had been paying attention and planning ahead – as in “I wonder where the toll plaza is, Oh that must be it!! I’ll remember that the lanes are on the right hand side of the highway. Easy Peasy!! Now, what were you saying Veronica?”

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