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More drivers are returning to the State Route 520 floating bridge, a week after tolls began.

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Date:  Friday, January 06, 2012

Contact: Good To Go! customer service 1-866-936-8246.

SEATTLE – More drivers are returning to the State Route 520 floating bridge, a week after tolls began. Data compiled Thursday, Jan. 5, shows 59,200 toll transactions, the highest number since tolling began.

“Commuters are returning to the bridge, but travel speeds are consistently free-flow,” said Toll Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation. Stone attributes the travel speeds to fewer vehicles overall and more drivers shifting their commutes to earlier or later in the day to take advantage of the lower variable toll rates on SR 520. The variable tolls are higher during peak commute hours.

Interstate 90 traffic has increased by 14 percent and travel delays have hovered around 3 minutes during the peak commute. More drivers are getting to I-90 earlier and using I-90 later in the day.

Collisions on I-90 and I-5 also contributed to I-90 congestion this week.
 
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The number of drivers setting up new Good To Go! accounts is leveling off. On Thursday, Jan. 5, 2,457 accounts were activated. Next week, an estimated 22,000 toll bills will go in the mail and will cover the first week of tolling from Dec. 29-Jan. 4 for drivers who chose to Pay By Mail.

Current account holders received electronic statements in the mail on Wednesday, Jan. 4 that reflects their tolls using the Good To Go! Pass or using Good To Go! Pay By Plate. An extra 25 cents per crossing is added when using Pay By Plate.

Traffic patterns on January 5

SR 520 traffic on Jan. 5 represents 59 percent of the pre-tolling levels of 101,000 vehicles per day. Drivers are saving about five to seven minutes in each direction during the peak commute.

Data from Dec. 29, the first day of SR 520 tolling, shows a little more than 42,000 toll transactions while data from Jan. 5 shows 59,000 transactions.

On Thursday, Jan. 5, I-90 traffic increased by 14 percent. Eastbound drivers added only one to two minutes to their commute while westbound drivers saw the same travel times in morning commute and three-minute delays in evening commute.
 
Traffic engineers say this is traditionally the slowest month for traffic due to back-to-back holidays in December and January. It may be February before traffic levels return to normal.

“We want to caution drivers that Monday will be different. We are still working toward that new normal,” said Stone. “It could be months before we see that new normal.”
 
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.


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