Toll rates to increase for SR 99 tunnel, SR 520 bridge and Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) adopted toll rate increases during a hearing on Tuesday for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the SR 99 tunnel and SR 520 bridge.

In order to fulfill debt payments and maintenance costs, The Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll rates (Good To Go! pass, toll booth and Pay By Mail) will increase by 25 cents on Oct. 1, 2021.

Commissioners passed the rate hikes with a unanimous vote. WTSC says the primary reason for the increase is due to the pandemic.

For 16 months, traffic has been down on all toll roads leading to a loss of nearly $128 million in expected revenue.

To help maintain the SR 99 tunnel, rates will rise by 15% across the board, meaning rates will increase between 15 -35 cents. 

SR 99 tunnel rates will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2021.

Similar to the SR 99 tunnel, the 520 Bridge has also lost revenue. Effective July 1, 2023, weekday peak hour times will be extended by one hour and rates will increase by $1.10 between 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Rate increases at other times will increase between 20-55 cents. Night time will remain the same.

 The hike means an already expensive ride on 520 will get more costly for many.

"My bill is around the $300 range every month I work in Medina but our office is in Seattle so we are going across 3 times a day," Mike Cox said. 

Cox works for RW Anderson Homes and he says the 520 toll increase could mean thousands of dollars more a month for his company to do business. 

 Most drivers Q13 News spoke with on Tuesday were not happy with tolls going up but some said they somewhat understood.

"It’s got to come from somewhere, I hate that it comes from us because we pay so many taxes in so many areas," driver Louis Martin said.

Others say the government needs to do a better job of managing existing funds.

"The gas tax is supposed to pay for our roads and it’s pretty high compared to the nation," driver Rick Chaffey said.

Chaffey says he isn’t worried as much about the other tolls but he and Cox will be tracking the 520 toll increase.

"The total when it literally is $6, $7 to cross the bridge people are going to be like this is crazy," Cox said.

Cox says it wouldn’t surprise him if it eventually cost that much to cross one way on the 520 bridge. Right now on average his trip one way is costing around $4.

Other drivers say if it gets to $7 or $8 one way, they would stop using the 520 bridge.

The reactions to the toll hikes announced on Tuesday also turned political for some.

"Make sure that we are voting for the right people get into office," Martin said.

"Elect new people," Chaffey said.

For more information on tolls visit the WSTC website.

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