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Friday, December 30, 2011
WSDOT Communications/Emergency Operations Center, 206-440-4984
WSDOT 24-hour communications, 206-437-6314
SEATTLE – Evening rush hour was predictably light for the second day of tolling on the SR 520 floating bridge. As 2011 comes to a close, drivers prepare for changes to their commute on Tuesday.
“Traffic was relatively smooth throughout the area, as we expected this holiday week, and the electronic toll system functioned as intended,” said Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation. “Now that we’re up and running, we’re prepared for heavier commute volumes next week. Tolling on SR 520 will mean increased traffic on other routes, as some drivers avoid the toll.”
Drivers did avoid the toll on Thursday, Dec. 29, the official first day of tolling. Those that diverted from SR 520 raised traffic volumes from holiday levels to typical work-day levels on I-90 and SR 522.
An estimated 44,300 drivers took SR 520, while 141,600 drivers chose I-90 and 33,800 took SR 522. Drivers, for the most part, experienced no delays with light holiday traffic. This provides a snapshot of things to come next week.
“We expect drivers will try I-90, SR 522 around the lake, transit or even telecommute next week. They might even try all four options, and we are prepared for that,” said Stone. “There will be a new normal as Seattle and Bellevue traffic shuffles to accommodate tolling.”
WSDOT traffic engineers expect Tuesday morning’s rush hour will be heavier than usual on alternate cross-lake routes, such as I-90 and SR 522, as well as I-5 and I- 405.
On Thursday, more than half the drivers crossing the SR 520 bridge had an active Good To Go! pass. More than three quarters of rush-hour drivers carried a pass. Since February, drivers have set up more than 153,000 accounts.
SR 520 drivers will pay lower weekend and holiday toll rates starting Saturday. The lower rates will be in effect through the official state New Year’s holiday on Monday.
Good To Go! customer service centers are open until 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to serve commuters who still need to set up an account. Customer service centers and call centers will be closed Sunday for New Year’s Day. Drivers can set up accounts and access their account anytime online. Sticker passes are available from a variety of retail stores: Safeway, Walgreens, QFC, Fred Meyer and Costco.
About tolling on the SR 520 bridge
Tolling on SR 520 is expected to raise $1 billion overall 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 SR 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.
Hyperlinks within the news release
• Good To Go! www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo
• Good To Go! retail locations www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo/retail
• Good To Go! customer service www.wsdot.wa.gov/GoodToGo/contacts.htm
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