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Committee recommends no toll hike
Determining that the current toll prices will generate enough revenue to cover debt payments, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee recommended this week that the price to cross the span not go up next year, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Assuming the tolls remain at $4 for cash payers and $2.75 for those with transponders, the CAC estimates in one scenario that the TNC account will cover its debt by 111 percent by the end of 2009, and 89.9 percent at the end of 2010.
Those estimates assume that the bridge will continue to generate $43.8 million total in toll revenue and $424,000 from transponders.
In a second scenario, the CAC assumes the same toll and transponder revenue predictions, but also includes money it collects from violators. For 2008, that amount it listed as $467,000, and estimated to reach $550,000 for both 2009 and 2010.
With the money from violations included in the totals, the “debt service coverage” increases to 114 percent for 2009, and 93.1 percent for 2010.
(For 2008, with the revenue violations included, the debt coverage is 131 percent).
The CAC also presented several more scenarios that estimates the revenues and debt coverage for toll rates ranging from $2.75 for electronic toll collection and $6 cash, to $3.25 ETC and $5 cash, all of which covered the debt payment, most at a level of at least 110 percent.
This recommendation will next be presented to the Washington State Transportation Commission for approval. That meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16 in Olympia.
The last recommendation of the CAC, which was for a $1 increase for both toll rates, was approved by the commission. That increase was deemed necessary to cover debt payments, as bonds for the bridge construction costs must be paid every six months.
Another CAC meeting scheduled for Dec. 4 was cancelled due to the committee formulating and voting on its recommendation Dec. 2.