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What do you want your $3 to be used for?
Anyone with questions or opinions to share about where exactly their Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls are going is invited to a special meeting of the State Transportation Commission Tuesday night in Gig Harbor.
Commission Executive Director Reema Griffith said the need for such meeting became clear after recent newspaper articles revealed that not all of the toll money collected on the new span was going toward paying off the project debt.
They expressed concerns about the tow trucks being stationed there, and that the Washington State Patrol (troopers in the area) were being paid for out of the tolls, Griffith said, referring specifically to reports by the Tacoma News Tribune that detailed such expenditures.
There was a lot of public reaction to those articles, and it became clear to the commission that it would be an important step to allow the public to air their concerns and ideas about what would be appropriate uses of the toll revenue, she said, explaining that while she understood the tow trucks have been pulled back, there were still plenty of other issues to discuss.
Griffith said there were two main reasons for holding the meeting.
The first is to have representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation come in and walk through the details of where the $3 tolls are going, she said. And the second is to allow the public to testify and comment about that process.
Griffith said while the commission does not have the direct authority to dictate changes to toll revenue expenditures, it should understand what the tolls pay for and how those who pay the tolls feel about where the money is going.
From what we heard, people were saying they thought the toll money was going strictly to paying off the bridge debt, and they feel strongly that that should be the top priority, Griffith said, explaining that most comments so far have been fielded by the WSDOT, and Tuesdays meeting will be a way for the commission to hear directly from the public.
And while the commission cant make any specific additions or cuts to the areas where the toll revenue is spent, it has been asked to collect input and present a recommendation to the governor and the legislators, Griffith said, explaining that such a report would probably be prepared sometime prior to the next legislative session, in either November or December.
Along with the WSDOT, representatives from the Washington State Patrol and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee are expected to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gig Harbor City Council Chambers.