Chronic traffic congestion is one of the most pressing transportation issues in central Puget Sound. As our economy and population continue to grow, so does the time we spend in traffic.
If you’re a cross-lake commuter, you know 520 is congested and you’re probably spending more time in traffic than ever before. Perhaps you already use other alternatives: opting to use one Lake Washington crossing over another, taking transit, or adjusting the time you leave for work or home.
Tolling could help manage congestion on 520. This is done using “variable tolling,” which offers a lower toll for drivers to travel during non-peak times, less busy hours of the day. A lower toll is charged when traffic is lighter than when the corridor is at its highest demand. Because a toll is charged by time of day, variable tolling gives people an incentive to change travel times, reduce optional trips, take an alternate route, or choose transit as an alternative to driving alone. Experiences in other cities in the U.S. and around the world have shown that these fees can help reduce congestion.
When tolls are placed on 520, new transit service will give drivers a less expensive alternative to driving their own cars across the lake during peak commute times. Transit will also become a more reliable choice because carpool lanes will be added to the corridor.
Electronic signs above lanes will give drivers real-time traffic information related to speed, congestion, or collisions. These signs automatically change based on current traffic flow conditions to help keep all speeds on the highway harmonized and traffic moving. The signs may tell you the speed to travel to keep traffic moving, that there is an accident ahead, or how long it will take to drive from one point to another. These traffic management tools will be independent of the toll structure selected for 520.
The 520 Tolling Implementation Committee wants to hear from you: