More tolling problems have delayed the mailing of Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls to thousands of motorists, state transportation officials announced Thursday.
Motorists should see older Good to Go! tolls in the mail in the next few weeks as the state’s toll contractor, Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp., works through the last of the backlog, the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a press release.
The state said about 100,000 transactions for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge got clogged up in the electronic tolling system, and ETCC was unable to process them in a timely manner. The delay also affected another 250,000 transactions on the State Route 520 floating bridge.
The state’s year-end accounting of Good to Go! revealed the unaccounted-for tolls, officials said.
“We’re sending delayed bills, and that’s not good news. But the good news is we found the issue,” state tolling director Craig Stone said. “It’s important to everyone paying to use our bridges that the tolls are applied consistently and fairly.”
State tolling officials were unavailable for immediate comment.
It’s imperative for the state to collect all the toll revenue that is due because the bridge’s construction was 100 percent financed by tolls. Traffic has declined for two consecutive years and revenue has remained flat as questions grow as to whether the state can meet its long-term debt obligations without tolling more than initially promised or turning to taxpayers to subsidize the bridge.
About two-thirds of the estimated 350,000 delayed transactions involved out-of-state license plates. Stone wrote in a bulletin to state lawmakers that a company had not taken the necessary step to obtain vehicle owner information from the state of California. The oversight has been corrected and those toll bills have been mailed, he wrote.
Another problem occurred when the system erroneously tossed out images of some Washington specialty license plates, Stone wrote.
The state estimated that the delayed tolls accounts for about 2 percent of the 18 million transactions that occurred between December 2011, when photo tolling began, and June.
The latest problems are reminiscent of delays in the mailing of toll infractions throughout 2011 that occurred after ETCC took over tolling operations statewide.
In December 2011, the state ended toll infractions with the launch of photo tolling. This new way of collecting from violators means that people who didn’t pay at the tollbooth or electronically receive a $6 toll in the mail instead of a $52 fine. The pay-by-mail toll increased from $5.50 on July 1.
Drivers can contest the bill. Drivers who don’t pay after 80 days receive a $40 penalty in addition to the toll and late fee.
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