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520 Tolls to Rise July 1: How Have First Six Months of Tolls Affected You?

Next Friday marks six months of the 520 tolls. The first of four annual increases will start the Sunday after.

The State Route 520 toll marks six months of operation next Friday, and the Washington State Department of Transportation reports that commuters have rolled with the change smoothly so far.

Traffic now flows freely during commute hours, and the revenue is ahead of projections, the state said.

But get ready for the next change. The .

The toll rates, which vary by time of day, will increase 2.5 percent on the total amount. That means the peak Good to Go rate of $3.50 will increase to $3.59, the peak Pay By Mail rate of $5 will increase to $5.13, and so on. (Click here to see a table of the current and upcoming toll rates.)

Officials say that the increase is necessary to stay on track with the finance plan to raise $1 billion for a , according to a press release by the state.

“We are headed in the right direction, and it’s looking like our careful planning is already producing positive outcomes,” WSDOT Toll Director Craig Stone said in a prepared statement. “That said, this is the six-month mark of a 30-year plan. It’s more important now than ever before that we stay the course.”

The state has a  from Seattle to Redmond that .

So far, the state has identfied the tolls and federal and state gas taxes to fund $2.43 billion of the project. The state , which will be completed under a separate project, officials said. 

The state plans  to repay the financing for the new bridge. In July 2016, the tolls are slated to increase by 15 percent. Each rate increase will be reviewed by the Washington State Transportation Commission, who will consider revenue data to determine if the rate increase is needed each year and at what amount, according to the state news release.

Before tolling began, officials said that tolling .

The traffic decreased on State Route 520, but not as much as engineers expected, according to the state.

During the first quarter of bridge tolling, weekday traffic was 15 percent higher than projected. April was 19 percent higher, and May numbers indicate that traffic is now 21 percent higher than projected, according to the state.

On Monday, electronic overhead signs on SR 520 will remind drivers about the upcoming rate change, the state reported.

By the numbers

Percentage of vehicles that cross with Good to Go accounts: 80 percent

How many minutes saved at peak time: 12 to 15 minutes

How much paid in tolls between January and March: $12.9 million

Increase in bus ridership: 10 percent

Increase in vanpools: 18 percent

What you'll pay at peak time after July 1: Good to Go, $3.59; Pay by Mail, $5.13.

Cheapest time to cross: 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., when there is no toll.

—Information from Washington State Department of Transportation

Tell us what you think

Tell us how the new toll has affected your life, and we'll report the best a selection of responses in an upcoming story. Email your comments to bellevue@patch.com, make a comment here on this story, or post your comments to our Facebook page.

Wes June 24, 2012 at 02:16 PM
It'll never be built!! Costs and bureaucratic bungling doomed this project years ago, and there's no end to "regulatory" add-ons!! It'll fall down from delapidation and procrastination.....

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