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520 Toll Rates Rise Sunday, Readers Reflect Back on First 6 Months of Tolling

As the region gears up for the first rise in 520 Bridge toll rates, about six months after the tolls started, readers report how the toll has affected their lives.

 

The 520 Bridge roll rates are on Sunday, with a 2.5 percent scheduled increase.

At peak commute hours, the Good to Go toll will rise from $3.50 to $3.59 a crossing; and Pay by Mail will rise from $5 to $5.13 a crossing. (Click here to see a table of the new rates.)

The Washington State Department of Transportation says traffic now flows more freely during commute hours than before tolling and that revenue is ahead of projections. But we asked readers to report how the changes are affecting their lives.

A reader who signed herself Disgusted Citizen wrote in an email that the toll is "anti-working man:"

The whole thing is SO anti-working man and to tell us that it has "gone smoothly" is SUCH a SHAM!  REALLY.  This is a state with a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth.  C'mon you money-grubbing bureaucrats -- this whole endeavor is deplorable -- I indulged in traversing the bridge I crossed free daily for 35 years the other day to the tune of $5 -- this is WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too high and to make it higher means you are ever more greedy.  Get a grip.  I luckily am an artist. I can go the long way.  But my friends who open up grocery stores-- good, decent people who are the BACKBONE of society and corporations...are paying an extra $200-$300 per month for this debacle.  FIND ANOTHER SOURCE OF REVENUE OTHER THAN THE WORKING MAN.  You're starting to sounds like Scott Walker.  Cousin of GW.

However, not everyone is so upset about the changes.

Bellevue Patch reader  commented he's glad that the state is on track and that the plan is working so far.

I remember many predictions that (1) traffic would be less than WS-DOT predicted, and (2) the toll-collection hardware was faulty and (3) plate covers, strategic spatters of mud, and good-to-go non-compliance would foil the collection effort. It's good to see WS-DOT is performing well. I drive almost as much as before (half driving and half busing), and contribute to the needed replacement bridge.

 posted similar comments on Kirkland Patch:

Glad tolling is working so well. Suck it up and get used to tolls. Voters of the state have consistently said they don't want taxes any higher, but they still want roads and services. Can't have one without the other, maybe not as musically as love and marriage, but if you want something, you have to pay for it one way or another. If road taxes spread throughout the population aren't acceptible, then user fees for those who use specific roads are the only way left to go.

The positive thing about tolls is that they drop off after the project is paid off, at least unless a smaller toll continues to pay for upkeep. Things could be worse -- we could have privately run turnpikes like they have in eastern states such as Massachusetts. There, you have to pay tolls about every 10 miles to pay the private contractor for keeping that part of the turnpike maintained. (Or maybe that's what people of Washington do want, since they keep rejecting every other way of paying for stuff.)

Some Patch readers have changed their habits.

Jan Stout posted on the Bellevue Patch Facebook page that her family has been able to plan around the tolls:

We are retired, so we are generally able to plan our trips for mid day or weekends to avoid the highest toll times. However, this toll seems much harder on our budget than it did when the toll was $.35!

Writing on Kirkland Patch,  says she also changed her habits:

The toll has affected me in two ways: 
1. I use my ORCA card more and enjoy the scenery as I ride the bus across the bridge and save $. 
2. When I cross the bridge in my car and pay the toll, I'm delighted to be paying something toward my share of the cost of construction.

I'd prefer a tax structure where we'd all invest in quality public services, education, infrastructure construction and maintenance.

Another reader emailed Bellevue Patch and said that she hasn't crossed the lake since January.

I haven't been to Seattle since tolling started and haven't missed it.

We'll still take your comments. Email your thoughts on tolling to ann.archer@patch.com or post on our Facebook page.

Peter Tountas July 01, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Since the toll was introduced on H520 and the parking rates so high in Seattle, I just avoid going there. I used to go to the Market about every two weeks and have been doing so for years. However, to go there at this time I have to spend about $7.00 in tolls, and anywhere from $10 to $20 for parking. So I just do not go. I shop elsewhere. In fact, I have not been to Seattle in over two years.
Steve Yabroff July 01, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I'm in the same boat. It is clear that Seattle discourages cars and doesn't welcome shoppers who might come by car. So we shop on the east side where parking is free, there are no tolls and we are welcome.
Kim Weers July 01, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I'm all for paying my share of what I use, but I'm confused. If the tolling is ahead of schedule, why are they raising the rates? Aside: Seattle is a wonderful city, but I rarely take advantage of it's offerings. With traffic so bad, parking in the city so high, and public transportation virtually non-existent from where I live, I avoid going into Seattle and shop elsewhere which is not good for merchants. Would love to see light rail on the Eastside and over the lake. Tim E's ideas have set us back. Taxes aren't all bad. KimW
Al Taylor July 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Kim, on the contrary Tim Eyman initiatives receive overwhelming support from a majority of voters who are fed up with wasteful spending that has set our pocketbooks back! The 520 replacement bridge was talked about for years, yet the Ron Sims, Gary Locke, and Christine Gregoire gang made sure that we spent first on two new sports stadiums and numerous nice-to-have-but-unnecessary projects. When there is an abuse of unchecked power, then voters must do what is available to them to legally control the situation--Eyman initiatives before election and ousting the bureaucrats in the Fall elections (ie. vote for Rob McKenna for Gov. and Reagan Dunn for Atty. Gen).
Edwin July 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This State is an example of when one party gets too much control. Just as we suffered over 8 yrs of excessive spending under Bush jr. and now with the ObamaCareTax Law that is one of the greatest tax hikes in ever. If left to the politicains you mention above and the new Seattle mayor and Seattle City Council, every car would have a GPS tracker in it so you can be taxed by the miles you drive. Ron Sims tried this and also according to him light rail would already be at the U Village. Sound Transit is one of the worst run public entities in the USA. Seattle has the 2nd highest parking rates in the USA next to Chicago. AS Woodinville residents we can barely go anywhere in a reasonable time via bus. The tolling is up becasue traffic across the bridge continues to be lower. Why go into Seattel if one can avoid it. And for 4 Billion dollars on the bridge I think the lanes only increas by 1 but there will be nice public art and bike/pedestrian paths and parks on lids. So I wonder how much really went to roads. WA State needs change and voting for Dunn and Mckenna is the way to get this to happen
Local Guy July 03, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Every new 2015 car WILL have a black box, replete with GPS and many other intrusive tracking data points. And the Tim Eyeman bashing gets old. I appreciate his, and others, who take on any citizen initiative effort. It is OUR government, get involved... And I got the message long ago, Seattle government really ISN'T interested in Eastside input. I too avoid going downtown, even when out of state company arrive. So many other fine options...
Al Taylor July 04, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Edwin states, "And for 4 Billion dollars on the bridge I think the lanes only increas by 1 but there will be nice public art and bike/pedestrian paths and parks on lids. So I wonder how much really went to roads." Let me guess......as a percentage more to roads than percentage that went for Brightwater after kickbacks, overages and parks (with strings attached). But then again, who cares it's government gifting and nobody pays, right?
Edwin July 04, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Every Agency or City Gov't extracted taxpayer funds to build Brightwater. The same goes on for the 520 expansion. Most people do not realize all the "nice extras" require trade offs with other Captial projects. For me I could live needing a bus or car to cross SR520 and if I wish to bike know I can cross on I90 or ride around the north end of the Lake on the the Burke - Gilman Trail. On a side note the time to Seattle from SR 522 in Woodinville around the Lake has doubled from what I can tell since tolling. my conclusion is we are being steered to mass tranist.

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