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Bridge panel to recommend toll hike March 8

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on March 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm with 16 Comments »
March 1, 2012 1:42 pm

The citizens advisory committee for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will finalize its recommendation for a proposed toll hike during its last meeting on Thursday, March 8.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St. The public is welcome to attend.

During its last meeting, the committee asked staff to bring back further information on scenarios that would increase tolls paid electronically, at a tollbooth or through the mail by at least $1.

The financing plan to build the bridge relies on toll increases to pay for increasing principal and interest payments on the bridge. That 2002 plan called for increasing tolls to an average of $5 starting on July 1, 2012. Tolls are scheduled to increase a final time to an average of $6 starting in July 2015 until the debt is repaid in 2030 under the plan

The debt payment on the bridge for the 12-month period ending June 30 is $43.2 million — $29.4 million in principal and $13.8 million in interest.

The total debt payment increases to $45.7 million fiscal year 2013 and nearly $54.6 million in fiscal year 2014, according to the state treasurer’s office.

The committee will formally present its recommendation to the Washington Transportation Commission on March 20.  The state commission will hold a series of meetings to hear from the public before setting the new tolls, which are scheduled to take effect July 1.

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Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. Up to 6$ ? When they built the bridge, didnt they figure out it would take X amount of dollars per car to repay the loan in X number of years ? It’s good thing banks arnt allowed to do this, raise your house payments every few years when they need more money.

  2. dbreneman says:

    The increasing tolls over the years were no secret when the bridge was proposed. What wasn’t revealed was that the state was salivating at the prospect of slapping tolls on many other bridges, and even stretches of “free”way as the Narrows Bridge tolls crept up. For people who commute long distances, the monthly cost of tools may soon eclipse that of their car payment.

  3. SisterGoldenHairSurprise says:

    This is just one example of “graduated payment mortgage”, it is done regularly. If people hadn’t stalled the project for many years, the cost and repayments would be less. Same for the Lakewood sewers and now Tillicum. If you don’t like growth and the resultant need for appropriate infrastructure then there are many places in the USA to which you can move. There is a reason for population growth in Western WA and this type of project will continue. Be thankful you don’t live in Seattle/King Co (our state capitol)where S-KC residents will be onhook for billions in over runs on the tunnel.

  4. Are these people out of their minds? I’ve lived where tolls are on highways and NEVER paid more than 2.50 for a 20 miles stretch. If you go from one exit to the next…let’s say 2 miles, it was .50 cents. These tolls are raping the hard working people of this State. I cannot fathom having to pay these amounts when gas and everything else is inflationary as well. It gives a literal meaning of highway robbery.

  5. serendipity says:

    I think it is wise to trap the poor workers on the other side of the bridge. (total cynicism here)

  6. leftybender says:

    Wasn’t there a proposal to build the bridge for under 500 million and no toll increases but the state decided to do it on their own? I think gig harbor residents are paying for the good to go start up infrastructure that is the future of our freeways. Doesn’t sound very fair.

  7. Amazing the toll are doing exactly what the voters claimed it would which is go up every year. Now the state will to do the same with gas tax

  8. What most people don’t realize is this raise in tolls is just the beginning of many toll increases in the future.As people stop using the bridge any more than they have to,the money that will be coming in to make those loan payments ,as required, will not be enough to make those payments so you can expect the tolls to continue going up and up.

  9. mscazier says:

    Thre is no free lunch … Isn’t it fair that the people that use the bridge pay for the bridge? I like the extra lanes the new bridge provided, and am glad the jerks that live in Gig Harbor and opposed the bridge didn’t get their way.

  10. headedsouth says:

    Is there a penalty if you live live West of the bridge and want to pay for the roughly $24,000.00 to cover your share of the bridge? At least the Top Dogs at WADOT can afford the increase….wow!

    Department of Transportation HAMMOND, PAULA JO SECRETARY DOT $162,438
    Department of Transportation FRACZAK, THOMAS D STAFF CHIEF $159,707
    Department of Transportation HAUPT, MARK F STAFF MASTER $158,536
    Department of Transportation DYE, DAVID L DP SEC POL TRN $156,084
    Department of Transportation CALHOUN, SCOTT L STAFF CHIEF $153,921

    Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/soundinfo/statesalaries/?appSession=211166834685469&RecordID=&PageID=2&PrevPageID=2&cpipage=1&CPIsortType=asc&CPIorderby=a2010pay#storylink=cpy

  11. BigBlockChev says:

    Four objections:

    1. The state willingly sold bonds that were not callable – meaning they can’t be refinanced. If the bonds could be refinanced at todays much lower rates, tens of millions of dollars would be saved – the term could even be extended to actually lower tolls.

    2. The state is requiring the tolls to include paying almost $60 million in sales tax on the construction. This sham was orginally contrived many years ago to essentially bilk the federal highway funds into paying an extra amount to the state’s general fund. The fact that the state is going to use this sham to pillor $60 million out of the Peninsula residents is unconscionable.

    3. The state is requiring a reserve fund be established to make the bond payments in the event of a catastrophic event that could prohibit tolling – like extended bad weather or an earthquake. That is yet another sham because these bonds are actually backed by the Motor Vehicle Excise tax and not tolls. The state’s full faith and credit is behind them. Esatblishing a reserve fund is superfluous.

    4. Just this week, the state realized that the toll projections on the Seattle Tunnel project were overly optimistic. They lowered them by $200 million – about 1/3 the total cost of the Narrows Bridge. Instead of raising tolls to cover the shortfall, the state announced that it would find other funding sources to make up the difference. Why then, can’t the state finding other funding sources to ‘make up the difference’ and eliminate these toll increases?

  12. Stangchic says:

    Wow, when the people voted, didn’t they promise it would not exceed $3.00??

  13. BigBlockChev says:

    mscazier – Yes, it is arguably fair that those using the bridge pay for it. I assume you pay a toll on all the roads you use to commute as well? Maybe, instead of using taxes to pay for schools we should just go a tuition based system where those “using it” pay for it?

    The point of contention isn’t the toll, per se. That is a discussion at a higher level. The dispute is on what is included in the toll. See my post above – 3 egregious items are being included that simply shouldn’t be there and would save tens of millions of dollars. Are you against that?

  14. BigBlockChev says:

    Also, keep in mind that the Citizens Advisory Committee is a toothless concoction designed to deflect criticism and scrutiny from the legislature and WSDOT on toll increases. It is completely meaningless. The Transportation Commission will raise tolls regardless of what this “citizens commission” recommends.

  15. User fees are the most fair way to pay for something. What’s unfair about the toll costs is how they added the cost of other things as well. Like a new trooper car?

    But let’s start using user fees on more things. Like schools. We could give each kid a transponder and charge so much per class. Then those who use the school pay for it. Sounds fair to me. As a bonus if your kid skipped school or was sick you would not have to pay. Kinda like when I shop in Silverdale instead of Takoma I don’t pay a toll.

    Tolls/ user fees are a good idea. Let’s use them for everything.

  16. Old story. Tired of it. Boring. Get a boat!!!

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