Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Tacoma Narrows Bridge

July
18th

Settlement with toll vendor includes contract extension with discount

Washington’s Department of Transportation says a contractor will give up $6.4 million as payback for last year’s delays in tolling Route 520 and moving to a new statewide tolling system.

That’s on top of $1.5 million in payments the state has already avoided paying to Electronic Transaction Consultants. The company runs the toll system’s back-office and customer-service operations.

But the full amount of the legal settlement will only be recouped if the state follows through with plans to extend its contract with ETC for another four years.

Rather than handing over a check, the company will meet most of its

Read more »

March
20th

Transportation Commission calls for $1.25 increase in Tacoma Narrows bridge toll

The commission’s vote today was preliminary, with the final decision still two months away after public hearings.

But it called for charging $4 for drivers with prepaid Good to Go accounts to cross the eastbound bridge, a $1.25 increase aimed at keeping the bridge in the black and with a large enough reserve through the next fiscal year.

A citizen committee had called for a smaller 90-cent increase to $3.65.

The state commission did agree with the citizen panel in calling for an increase of $1 in cash tolls, to $5, and an increase of $1.50 for drivers who pay

Read more »

March
20th

Morning update: Special session day 9

State lawmakers welcome spring today while still working on the same task they started in the fall: trying to decide how to balance the budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday that budget writers were to meet again today at least once and look at an idea she gave them for finding some money — a new iteration of an idea she has been pitching for a while, although she won’t reveal publicly what that is.

Across the street from the Capitol, the state Transportation Commission will consider how much drivers should pay to cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

A citizen

Read more »

Jan.
20th

Sales-tax forgiveness could save Tacoma Narrows toll payers 40-50 cents

Tolls on the Narrows bridge are almost certainly about to go up, driven by growing debt-service payments on the 2007 span. The only question is how much.

A measure in the Legislature might knock as much as 50 cents off of the necessary increase, according to the state’s toll director. Lawmakers are looking at forgiving sales taxes, and Craig Stone said Thursday:

that there could be about a 40 to 50 cent toll reduction for 2013 resulting from forgiving deferred sales taxes, but we’d want to have the traffic and revenue consultants run the numbers to get a more precise estimate

Read more »

Nov.
16th

State heads into toll-setting process for Tacoma Narrows bridge

If, hypothetically, a revenue forecast knocked 8.6 percent of tax collections out of the state budget, it would send shockwaves through Olympia.

But the state is lowering its expectations for Tacoma Narrows bridge revenue by 8.6 percent, yet there are no alarm bells going off. It’s just not that big of a deal in the big picture.

Officials have more serious worries: namely, the bridge’s debt payments, which will balloon from $89 million in this two-year budget period to $108 million in the next one, to $133 million in the one after that.

That’s just shy of a 50 percent

Read more »

Aug.
25th

Tacoma Narrows bridge to start reading transponders

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

Read more »

Aug.
25th

If you’ve crossed Tacoma Narrows without paying since July 7, expect a ticket

After complaints from drivers that they had been fined despite keeping a balance in their Good to Go accounts, the state was forced to dismiss thousands of valid tickets along with the mistakes. So plenty of people crossed the bridge for free.

But now the Department of Transportation says contractor Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp. has resolved problems and is about ready to start sending out tickets.

They hit the mail around Labor Day. The state must issue fines within 60 days, so the tickets will go to drivers whose license plates were caught on camera since July 7.

“If

Read more »

Aug.
25th

Start of 520 bridge tolls, Tacoma Narrows photo tolls set for December

It was supposed to start this spring or even before, but the next generation of tolling in Washington has a new timetable. It starts in December, state officials said today.

It’s the latest of several delays, but the Department of Transportation says it’s now confident of having the Route 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington ready to toll, which will also allow the start of photo tolling on the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Once photo tolling is in place, cameras that recognize the licenses of drivers crossing the Narrows without paying cash or carrying a Good to Go pass will mail them a bill for the $5.50 toll, rather than a notice of a $52 fine — and the money will go to the bridge, not the courts.

Testing on 520 has provided good results, officials said.

“The system is in good shape, so that gives us a lot of confidence that we’ll be able to deploy in December,” said Craig Stone, director of the state Toll Division.

Here’s WSDOT’s news release. More to come on just what contractor Electronic Transaction Consultants will be paying for the delays.

SR 520 bridge tolling to begin in December Read more »