When will tolls start on 520? Delays leave state with no date

Jun 23, 2011

People who drive over the State Route 520 floating bridge will likely have a few more months before tolls kick in. The latest estimate of when charges would begin is now August, but the Washington State Department of Transportation won't commit to a date.

The new system has faced a string of delays. It was originally scheduled to be up and running in April. Then it was pushed back to June. Then late July. 

Transportation officials say the system still hasn’t passed its first phase of testing and it has two more levels to complete after that. Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp (ETCC), the Texas-based company setting up the tolling, has had similar problems in other states, including Illinois and Louisiana.

WSDOT also needs to have the following elements in place to set a start date:

  • new highway signs
  • accounting procedures
  • approved toll rates
  • toll-enforcement process
  • sufficient active Good To Go! accounts (Drivers opened more than 55,000 between February and April)

Once the system is in place, it could still be problematic. ETCC is also responsible for tolling on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which sent thousands of tickets in error to drivers who supposedly didn’t pay the toll. The state has since corrected about 11,000 accounts.       

The state has said the delayed start date for 520 tolling will not cause an increase in toll charges, which are planned to run between $1.60 at night to as much as $3.50 during rush hour each direction. The money will be used to pay off bonds for construction of the new 520 bridge.