Inside Opinion

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Tag: Narrows Bridge

March
8th

Give Narrows tollpayers a break on project’s sales tax

UPDATE: The Legislature passed SSB6073 Thursday night. It now goes to the governor for her signature.

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Narrows Bridge commuters are footing the bill for building the second span and retrofitting the original one. But if state Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, has any say in it, they won’t also pay state sales tax on the project anytime soon.

Kilmer’s Substitute Senate Bill 6073, which passed the Senate on Monday, is now in the House and of this writing is still technically alive. It would further delay payment of the sales taxes involved with the bridge project. The first payment on those taxes – about $5.75 million a year over 10 years – comes due this year. With SSB 6073, Kilmer hopes to push that out another six years – at least.
Read more »

March
17th

Good to Go tolling system should live up to its name

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The “Good to Go” electronic tolling system devised for Tacoma Narrows Bridge commuters is now just “Sort of OK to Go.”

Drivers who sign up now for a $5 Good to Go transponder will get one that isn’t readable on the Narrows bridge – even if commuting over that bridge is the main reason they want the pass that allows them to pay a lower toll. It will, however, be readable on the state Route 520 bridge, which will begin tolling later in the spring, and on the state Route 167 hot lanes.

Not to worry, though, says the state Department of Transportation. Drivers with the new transponder who cross the Narrows won’t be fined. Cameras on the bridge will send images of their license plates to the tolling contractor, and a worker will check to see if that vehicle is signed up for Good to Go. If yes, $2.75 will be deducted from the driver’s account. If no, a $5.50 charge will be mailed to the driver.

Wasn’t the whole point of getting a Good to Go transponder the idea that it could be used seamlessly wherever tolls were collected in the state? It doesn’t seem beyond the realm of technical expertise to come up with that kind of system, even if the state switched from the original contractor (TransCore) to the current one (Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp.) Read more »

March
3rd

Bridge lights can wait for brighter budget picture

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

In the budget crunching going on in Olympia, just about everyone is being asked to give up something.

And although many South Sounders have their hearts set on illuminating the second Tacoma Narrows bridges, that looks to be one of the casualties as the Legislature scours the budget looking for ways to avoid cutting jobs and vital services.

The $1.5 million for the bridge-lighting project won’t make a huge dent in the state’s $2.8 billion deficit – or even the $150 million in cuts needed from the capital budget. But giving it up is an important symbolic gesture for the two Gig Harbor legislators who have pushed for the money, Sen. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Larry Seaquist. It’s an acknowledgement that compared to providing health care for children and the low-income and college financial aid, lighting the bridge is a lower priority. Read more »

Feb.
9th

The flaw in state treasurer’s advice on bridge tolls

Tacoma Narrows commuters will get their chance tonight to comment on the state Transportation Commission’s proposed bridge toll hikes.

Tolls were bound to go up by some amount this year, but the commission’s proposed rates have been especially controversial owing to the state treasurer’s involvement. Treasurer Jim McIntire is looking at having to sell bonds on the Highway 520 bridge in a few short years, and he says driving a good bargain will depend in part on the fiscal health of the Narrows toll account.

He has asked the Transportation Commission to set toll rates that generate

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