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Crossing the Bridge? Bring another dollar

Toll rates on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge increased to $4.00 for cash toll payers and $2.75 for electronic toll payers starting yesterday.

The Washington State Transportation Commission approved the toll rate increases in May, after holding public meetings to collect comments and suggestions.

The commission reports that since the state must collect enough toll revenue to meet debt payments related to construction of the bridge, the $1 increase over current toll rates was “determined necessary to raise sufficient funds, while still maintaining a discount for” electronic toll collection users, or Good To Go! customers.

A recent press release described the debt payments as “the single-most critical component for setting the toll rate, (since) approximately 60 percent of each toll collected goes toward debt payment.”

In the 2008 fiscal year, the commission reports that a total of $14.8 million in bond payments were due, and that next year, nearly twice as much will be due, with $27.2 million in bond payments scheduled.

The Citizen Advisory Committee and commission will be reviewing traffic and revenue data on a regular basis to determine the appropriate toll rate for the following year, with a goal of maintaining what it promises will be “the lowest possible toll rates, while ensuring there is sufficient toll revenue to meet the financial obligations.”

More information on tolling for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge can be found online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Tolling/TNBTolling .

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