Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll hikes OKed for next month

It’s official — the tolls to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will be a dollar more come July.

Last week, the Washington State Transportation Commission voted to approve the TNB’s Citizen Advisory Committee’s recommendation to raise the price to cross the new bridge by a dollar for both cash and electronic toll collection(ETC) payments.

Before the commission voted, Executive Director Reema Griffith said the public was invited to speak at both a hearing May 20 and the meeting May 27.

“We had a bigger turnout on the 20th,” Griffith said, explaining that one man expressed support for the toll proposal, and a couple of people asked questions about the toll rate schedule.

“A few people were confused and said they didn’t know the tolls were going to go up incrementally over time,” Griffith said. “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 ETC price 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.

“There are so many different factors and variables to consider that the staff needs time (to crunch the numbers),” she said, adding that she hoped in the future, people with alternative toll ideas would present them earlier in the process.

“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, explaining that the number of cash-paying versus ETC customers is not static, but shifts according to the price of each.

“I would recommend people get involved earlier on in the process,” she said. “The CAC meets quarterly, and will be preparing its report (for the next potential toll increase) by December.”

Griffith said an especially important factor in predicting the amount of tolls collected in the coming months (and years) will be gas prices.

“The higher the gas prices, the less people will drive, which will affect our collections,” she said. “All our numbers so far have been predictions (of how many people will be driving over the bridge).

The tolls will increase July 1.

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