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Toll talk begins next week
Monthly meetings to determine next year’s price to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge are beginning next week, and citizens hoping to have their say in the process are encouraged to get involved early.
“There are so many different factors and variables to consider that the staff needs time (to crunch the numbers),” said Reema Griffith, executive director of the Washington State Transportation Commission, speaking last June as citizens offered suggestions shortly before commissioner members were due to vote on TNB toll increases.
“The problem with coming in at the last minute with ideas is it’s almost impossible to react to, since there are so many moving parts to consider,” Griffith said “I would recommend people get involved earlier on in the process. The Citizen Advisory Committee meets quarterly, and will be preparing its report (for the next potential toll increase) by December.”
On Tuesday, those meetings begin as the CAC meets at the Gig Harbor Civic Center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Earlier this year, Griffith said “a few people (who attended the CAC meetings) were confused and said they didn’t know the tolls were going to go up incrementally over time. They were concerned about the rate, that the tolls would be too high in the future.”
Griffith said two women also suggested adjusting the price hikes to make the cash price even higher — up to $5 instead of $4— and raising the Electronic Toll Collection price (paid by those with transponder stickers) to only $2.25, instead of $2.75.
And while Griffith said their suggestion was worth looking into, to receive proper consideration it should have been brought to the commission sooner.
Earlier this year, the TNB Citizen Advisory Committee recommended raising the transponder (electronic toll collection) rate to $2.75, and the cash price to $4. The new prices took effect July 1.
The increase was deemed necessary to continue paying off bridge debts in a timely manner, according to the commission.
Bonds for the bridge construction costs must be paid every six months, and the commission wanted to maintain a discount for drivers with Good To Go! electronic toll accounts.
On Tuesday evening in Gig Harbor, the commission is encouraging community members to offer comments on the issues discussed. Four more meetings are planned this year: on Nov. 13, Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 4.
The locations of those meetings have yet to be determined.
Individuals who would like to submit comments or questions in writing to the Citizen Advisory Committee may do so online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Tolling/TNBTolling/CitizenAdvisoryCommittee or by mail to TNB-CAC, 3214 50th Street Court NW, Building D-302, Gig Harbor, 98335-8583.