Washington Transportation Commission considers raising tolls, ferry fares

The Washington State Transportation Commission is considering increasing rates on major roads in western Washington and fare hikes on ferries.

Some of the roadways that could see an increase in tolls are the SR-520 bridge, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and the Highway 99 tunnel.

The Transportation Commission says it's lost more than $50 million over the last year due to the pandemic with people staying home and not paying the tolls that cover the funding of the bridges. $60 million in emergency federal relief was recently plugged into that funding to hold off bigger toll hikes that would have gone into effect in July.

While there are no definitive numbers on what these rate hikes are going to look like, commuters could see a 25 cent increase on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. 

There has also been talk of raising tolls in HOV lanes on SR-167 and SR-405, but nothing has been decided in that regard.

While the Transportation Commission's executive director says it's hard to predict how many more people will eventually commute to work again, she admits it's tough to ask drivers to now pay more.

"It is really difficult right now to ask people to pay more because we are facing some challenging economic times right now and a lot of people are out of work. So, you know, the idea of having to pay more to cross a facility when it may be your only way to get from point A to B is a tough thing to do," Reema Griffith said. 

The Transportation Commission will vote on the issue in August and commuters could see a fare hike by October. 

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