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Tacoma Narrows bridge to start reading transponders

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Aug. 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
August 25, 2011 1:34 pm

A state contractor has agreed to install new machines on the Tacoma Narrows bridge that can read the latest Good to Go transponders, state transportation officials said today.

One lane was outfitted with the new readers Tuesday for testing and the other three Good to Go lanes will be switched by mid-September, state tolling director Craig Stone said. Tests look good so far.

“It will be a great relief to us. It will be a great relief to our customers,” Stone said.

The state will pay $300,000 for the readers. The cost will be charged to Route 520 toll payers because tolling the 520 bridge over Lake Washington was the impetus for the state buying a new generation of transponders that couldn’t be read on the Narrows bridge.

The decision by contractor TransCore is a reversal that comes after negotiations with the state.

TransCore had said it would not upgrade its readers to scan the newer transponder passes because they use open-source technology that can be duplicated. The old passes relied on TransCore’s proprietary technology.

The drivers missed by readers were being picked up by cameras, but that system was expected to miss as much as $600,000 a year in lost tolls. Officials say they made the switch anyway because the loss would be much smaller than the savings from buying new, cheaper transponders.

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