At a meeting in Seattle last week, lawmakers heard that the funding gap for replacing the storm- and seismically-vulnerable, crowded four-lane SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington can be shaved from $2.6 billion to $2.38 billion through a sales tax deferral of $220 million. They also had a look at the current menu of gap-closers. It includes more borrowing against electronic tolling revenues, plus higher toll rates on the 520 bridge, and especially, tolling of the parallel I-90 bridge. As ever, tolling’s a flash point, but it needn’t be ugly. It can equitable, and farsighted. Metro Puget Sound needs a comprehensive regional highway corridor electronic tolling plan, typically with express “HOT” lanes aside free lanes, and higher rates at peak hours.
Corridor-length Approach Is Favored; I-405/SR 167 Seen As Model Reporter Newspapers covers East and South King County, and has produced a lengthy special section – also available online – delving into the region’s surface transportation challenges. In an in interview for “Navigate King County’s Future,” Washington Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond talks about funding, with an emphasis on beginning to to add variable-rate express toll lanes for the full length of major highway corridors such as I-405/SR 167. She also alludes to the next-generation approach of charging vehicles for all miles driven, with on-board units. In the future, you could be paying for your right to use roads the same way you pay your utilities — a bill based Read More ›
Yesterday in Crosscut, the Northwest online daily journal of politics and public policy, I published a piece titled “Time to Go ‘All In’ On Tolls.” It starts this way: The four-lane Evergreen Point Floating Bridge across Lake Washington on State Route 520 is a relic of a bygone era, congested and disaster prone. How urgent is the need for a planned six-lane replacement? The Washington State Department of Transportation has gone so far as to graphically model on YouTube how the bridge might buckle under duress, threatening lives and paralyzing the region’s highway network. And is the region stepping up to the challenge? Less than half the funding is secured. The Seattle-side configuration is still being debated. More broadly, the project begs a Read More ›