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Thursday, December 29, 2011
WSDOT Communications/Emergency Operations Center, 206-440-4984 (Seattle)
Light morning commute on SR 520, SR 522; I-90 busier but smooth
SEATTLE – The State Route 520 floating bridge became a tolled bridge at 5 a.m. today. After a record day of new Good To Go! account activations Wednesday, most drivers saved money with a pass.
“Today marks a major milestone for the state,” said Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation. Tolls collected will help pay for a new floating bridge scheduled to open in late 2014.
“This has been a unique endeavor with challenges along the way,” Stone said. “Commuters have been patient and responsive, buying and activating their Good To Go! passes. Account activation has picked up quite a bit in the past week, more than triple the average in previous weeks. I am grateful for drivers’ taking an active role in replacing this crucial connection between Seattle and King County’s Eastside.”
Traffic, travel times
“While we won’t have detailed data until Friday, we can report anecdotally that we saw very light traffic,” Stone said. Traffic volumes on the tolled SR 520 bridge were about 45 percent lighter than average, as traffic planners had predicted. Interstate 90 across Lake Washington was slightly busier. State Route 522 north of Lake Washington appeared lighter, but the data will paint a clearer picture tomorrow.
Drivers can expect traffic patterns to change again on Tuesday, Jan. 3, when the holidays end and people head back to the office and school, he said.
Most drivers Good To Go!
The new toll system on the SR 520 bridge is all-electronic – no toll booths, no cash transaction. In the first four hours of tolling, about 70 percent of vehicles carried the Good To Go! pass, which debits account holders for base toll rate each time they cross the bridge. All but about 5 percent of the passes were active.
“Our goal for the first day of tolling was to have 50 percent of vehicles sporting activated Good To Go! passes, and we are on our way to achieving it,” Stone said. “We will continue to highlight the benefits of purchasing a Good to Go! pass – it keeps system costs down and drivers save $1.50 on the toll each time they cross the bridge.”
Wednesday was a record-breaking day for the state’s Good To Go! website and customer service centers. Customers activated nearly 7,000 accounts, including nearly 6,000 activated online. Eastside account holders with addresses in Kirkland, north Bellevue and Redmond areas accounted for most of the activations.
WSDOT engineers expect the evening commute on SR 520 to be slightly lighter than usual as the holiday week continues. Traffic engineers predict 80 percent of a typical evening rush hour. Drivers might find more congestion along other routes across Lake Washington, as some commuters choose alternatives to SR 520.
Drivers can cross the bridge without a pass for a photo-toll rate of $1.50 more than the Good To Go! rate each way. This Pay By Mail option uses a license-plate identification system and mails a bill to the vehicle’s registered owner for the highest current toll rate each time the vehicle crosses the bridge. Drivers without a pass can save 50 cents on Pay By Mail tolls by registering their license plate with Good To Go!
Getting Good To Go!
- Purchase a Good To Go! pass, activate and install it.
- Update existing account information, including credit card or bank information and vehicle license plate numbers.
Pick up a pass
Buy any of the five pass options online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo.
About tolling on the SR 520 bridge
Tolling on the SR 520 floating bridge is expected to raise $1 billion toward the $4.65 billion SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV program, which builds 12.8 miles of safety and mobility improvements from Interstate 5 in Seattle to State Route 202 in Redmond. The existing SR 520 floating bridge opened to traffic in 1963 and is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after weathering decades of wind and waves. The new bridge will better withstand storms and move more people across the lake with a new transit/HOV lane for buses and carpools in each direction. The target date to open the new bridge to traffic is December 2014.
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