Come next spring, the state Department of Transportation will implement all-electronic tolling on the SR 520 Bridge, affecting many Bellevue residents and others who travel to and from the city for work or visits.
The new electronic tolling system, called "Good To Go!," will use technology to keep traffic moving with no toll booths, no stopping, and no slowing down. Tolling revenue will help pay for construction of a new, safer SR 520 Bridge.
To accelerate travelers across the bridge, customers can set up prepaid accounts linked to a Good to Go! pass that's installed in a vehicle or linked to a license plate. Simply link a bank account or credit card to a Good to Go! account and it's automatically replenished when it runs low.
With Good To Go! motorists will drive under electronic sensors on the east high rise of the bridge and the toll will be automatically deducted from their prepaid account. Tolls will be charged to both eastbound and westbound traffic. If the driver does not have a prepaid account, a photo will be taken of the vehicle's license plate, and a bill will be mailed to the vehicle's registered owner.
An interest list has been established for those who want to be among the first to sign up for a Good to Go! pass in mid-January. Subscribers will receive regular updates about rates, account options, special offers and customer services. Also, a WSDOT kiosk where drivers can obtain Good to Go! passes is scheduled to operate for several days in early 2011 at Bellevue City Hall.
Toll rates are being determined this fall by the state Transportation Commission. The Commission is considering tolls that vary by time of day, and day of the week, to encourage driving during less-congested periods. For example, travel is expected to be free during overnight hours; the toll rate for pre-paid accounts being considered by the Commission for weekend toll rates range from $1.10 to $2.20; weekday tolls during off-peak hours could range from $1.60 to $1.80; and tolls for weekday mornings and afternoon peak periods could range from $3.50 to $3.80.
On Nov. 16, the Commission will hold a meeting in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE, to discuss local transportation issues and challenges. At 3 p.m., WSDOT will present a final draft toll proposal developed under the guidance of the commission during the past several months. The commission will take comments at the Nov 16 meeting. To provide people with the opportunity to learn more about the proposal and provide comments they will hold public hearings on Dec. 6 in Seattle and Dec. 7 in Bellevue. The final hearing will be held on Jan. 5.
WSDOT's traffic modeling shows there may be less than a 10 percent increase in traffic on Interstate 90, where tolling is not currently scheduled to be implemented. However, WSDOT plans to monitor traffic volumes closely, both on I-90 and on city arterial streets that connect to the highway. The state Legislature will be watching the amount of revenue generated by tolling just SR 520 and whether it is sufficient to meet the financial obligations for the new bridge.
To give people more transportation choices, King County Metro and Sound Transit are slated to add nearly 100 new bus trips to the existing 600 trips daily on the SR 520 Bridge, along with improvements to the Redmond and South Kirkland Park & Ride lots.
For a full range of transportation options to driving alone, visit Choose Your Way Bellevue.
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