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Time to chime in on tolls

Before the price to cross the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge officially goes up, the Washington State Transportation Commission is asking the public to speak its mind next week.

On Tuesday evening in Gig Harbor, the commission is encouraging community members to offer comments — positive or negative — on a proposal that would raise tolls $1 for both the manual and automatic payments.

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.

Earlier this year, the TNB Citizen Advisory Committee recommended the increase, raising the transponder (electronic toll collection) rate to $2.75, and the cash price to $4.

The new prices will take effect July 1.

Last month, the commission agreed with the CAC’s recommendation.

“We’re following the recommendations made by the CAC, which wanted to continue an incentive for those with Good To Go! accounts,” said Dick Ford, the chair of the commission. “But, because up to 75 percent of drivers are now using electronic tolling, we couldn’t continue the current rates and still pay all our bills. The committee came up with the lowest toll rates that still generate the necessary revenues and the commission approved that recommendation.”

Next week’s public meeting will be on May 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Inn at Gig Harbor. For those unable to attend that meeting, a week later on May 27, the commission will then hold a final hearing at the same time and location to take additional public comment and adopt the new toll rates for the bridge.

For those unable to attend either meeting, may submit comments in writing and send them via snail mail to: Washington State Transportation Commission, PO Box 47308, Olympia, Washington 98504-7308, or by e-mail at: transc@wsdot.wa.gov.

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