Tolling on state Route 520 goes smooth for second day | Big test ahead

The second morning of tolling on the State Route 520 bridge Friday went much like the first – smooth sailing. Traffic was even lighter this morning than the first day of tolling and alternate routes Interstate-90 and SR 522 experienced no travel delays.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, December 30, 2011 5:18pm
  • News

The second morning of tolling on the state Route 520 bridge Friday went much like the first – smooth sailing. Traffic was even lighter this morning than the first day of tolling and alternate routes Interstate-90 and SR 522 experienced no travel delays.

The Thursday evening commute was more congested on I-90 and more like a typical weekday commute than a holiday week commute. Traffic engineers said it was a snapshot of what to expect next week – longer trip times and more traffic on I-90.

Traffic engineers for the Washington State Department of Transportation will spend the day crunching the latest data from the first two workdays with a tolled SR 520 floating bridge. They’ll be looking for clues for what traffic patterns might look like on Tuesday, when many commuters return from the holiday. They expect traffic to be significantly different and that it will take months to settle into a new normal.

“What we’ve seen so far is encouraging,” said WSDOT Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation. “The majority of SR 520 commuters who worked this week had a Good To Go! pass, and they saved $1.50 each time they crossed the bridge. We appreciate their patience and effort.”

“Because of the holidays we haven’t seen major congestion on other corridors across Lake Washington,” Stone added. “We want everyone to plan for Tuesday and give themselves some extra time as we expect traffic to change across and around the lake.”

The state’s Good To Go! website and the customer service centers continued activating new accounts at remarkable pace and trends are starting to emerge.

Travel times

Friday morning commute:

  • SR 520 traffic volumes were down about 50 percent from earlier in the week.

Thursday evening commute:

  • I-90 traffic was closer to typical weekday traffic.
  • More drivers appear to be using the I-90 express lanes.
  • SR 520 bridge flowed smoothly.

Detailed data about daily traffic will be available after 3 p.m. Friday.

Good To Go! pass sales

Drivers continue to activate Good To Go! accounts at a brisk pace. Nearly 6,600 accounts were opened on Thursday. Nearly 500 people came to the Bellevue and University District service centers. A mobile Good To Go! unit moved to the Bellevue Center to help with the volume.

Good To Go! customers activated about 7,000 accounts Wednesday. Drivers can buy passes at five retail outlets: Safeway, Costco, Walgreens, Fred Meyer and QFC, as well as Good To Go! customer service centers in Bellevue and the University District.

Drivers can cross the bridge without a pass but will pay $1.50 more than the Good To Go! rate. This Pay By Mail option sends a bill to the vehicle’s registered owner. Drivers can set up a Good To Go! account with just a license plate and will pay 25 cents more than theGood To Go! rate under Pay By Plate.

Trends

While it is early, an expected trend is starting to emerge. Daily commuters who travel between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. are more likely to haveGood To Go! passes than midday and evening drivers. Peak commuters have a 75 percent active pass rate; midday drivers have a 56 percent rate.  An estimated 1,500 vehicles crossed the bridge Thursday without an active pass. That’s about 6 percent.

Getting Good To Go!
  • Purchase a Good To Go! pass, activate and install it.
  • Update existing account information, including credit card or bank information and vehicle license plate numbers.

Pick up a pass

Buy any of the five pass options online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo.

  • Purchase the popular $5 sticker pass at participating stores: Costco, Safeway, Fred Meyer and QFC. Visitwww.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo/retail for a list of retail locations.

About tolling on the SR 520 bridge

Tolling on SR 520 is expected to raise $1 billion overall toward the $4.65 billion SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV program, which builds 12.8 miles of safety and mobility improvements from Interstate 5 in Seattle to SR 202 in Redmond. The existing SR 520 floating bridge opened to traffic in 1963, and is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after weathering decades of wind and waves. The new bridge will better withstand storms and move more people across the lake with a new transit/HOV lane for buses and carpools in each direction. The target date to open the new bridge to traffic is December 2014.

Hyperlinks within the news release:

•  Good To Go! www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo

•  Good To Go! retail locations www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo/retail

•  Good To Go! customer service www.wsdot.wa.gov/GoodToGo/contacts.htm


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