Seattle Highway 99 tunnel won't toll drivers until fall

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state says drivers won't pay tolls to use Seattle's downtown Highway 99 tunnel until this fall.

The Seattle Times reports Washington State Department of Transportation toll spokeswoman Emily Glad said Wednesday no specific date has been set.

When the four-lane tunnel opened Feb. 4, the state intended to begin collecting money from drivers this summer.

But if tolling started now, drivers would encounter even worse congestion on Alaskan Way, where demolition crews are taking down the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and on First Avenue, which is crowded with detouring buses that had used the viaduct.

Glad says new billing contractor ETAN also missed a Dec. 1 deadline to take over all five state agency toll routes.

State lawmakers approved the tunnel in 2009 to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct and now have required that tolls raise $200 million toward the $3.2 billion project.