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Bridge really was Good to Go!

After years of painstaking preparation and anticipation, the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened as a well-oiled tolling machine.

“It has been incredible,” said Janet Matkin, toll communications manager, speaking seven hours after the first official Good To Go! customer drove across the bride at 4:01 a.m. “People have never had a commute this good as they had today.”

In the first four hours of Monday’s inaugural commute, Matkin said 11,000 drove across the new span, 75 percent of which used transponders, or the state’s first electronic toll collection system known as Good To Go!

“Our original goal was to get 50 percent, so this is amazing,” she said, adding that there were “no delays whatsoever,” and no other glitches so far.

“And we were most concerned with the morning commute, because that has the greatest number of eastbound drivers,” she said.

For westbound drivers, the 1950 bridge remains open, which Matkin said was always the plan.

“It was never supposed to close completely,” she said. “That was a rumor that would not die.”

However, not all the lanes are open on the old bridge.

“We’re providing safety enhancements and refreshing the existing striping,” said WSDOT’s TNB Project Director Jeff Carpenter, explaining that the older bridge will open to three westbound lanes. One lane will remain closed around-the-clock to create a construction zone from which crews can prepare the deck for resurfacing and can upgrade bridge rail.

On Sunday, the bridge was celebrated beginning with a 5K run at 8 a.m. that gave more than 10,000 runners the first chance to go across the new bridge.

After that, approximately 60,000 people reportedly walked across it.

After the celebration, Carpenter said each direction of SR 16 was reduced to one lane all night as crews restriped the east and west approaches to both bridges.

At 4 a.m., the new eastbound bridge opened to its full four-lane capacity.

At present a coordinated operation is under way with contractor Tacoma Narrows Constructors, WSDOT project and freeway operations staff, and the Washington State Patrol and as they monitor construction progress and tolling operations with the onset of the morning commute.

“It’s going well,” said Greg Selstead, WSDOT’s director of tolling operations. “We’re monitoring the toll system closely and it’s working just the way it should.”

For more information on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge project, please visit tacomanarrowsbridge.com or www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr16narrowsbridge/

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