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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Annie Johnson, WSDOT Communications, 206-716-1165 (Seattle)
GIG HARBOR – Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) engineers confirmed today that newly upgraded toll equipment is successfully reading both old and new Good To Go! passes on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Customers who have purchased new passes since February will now see their toll transactions post more quickly.
“Upgrading the Narrows Bridge readers brings us to the next generation of tolling technology that allows us to offer our Good To Go! customers a greater variety of passes at lower prices,” said WSDOT Toll Division Director Craig Stone. “Thousands of Narrows Bridge drivers have purchased the new passes and this upgrade ensures that all Good To Go! customers will see their transactions post in a timely manner.”
Prior to the upgrade, the latest-generation passes were unreadable on the bridge. Vehicles had to be identified by taking photos of their license plates using existing camera equipment. License plate numbers were then matched to Good To Go! accounts. Now the upgraded readers immediately link the Good To Go! pass to the account, and customers will see a quicker turnaround for posting transactions.
The upgrade also means that Good To Go! customers no longer will be able to stop at the toll booths to pay electronic tolls when crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Those customers will need to use the Good To Go! electronic toll lanes or the 24th Street on-ramp.
“Upgrading the readers at the toll booths is not a wise investment,” Stone said. “The 100 daily transactions those readers processed did not merit the $90,000 price tag to replace them.”
About 40,000 toll transactions occur daily on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
The $300,000 cost for the project is covered through National Highway System funds, not by Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll payers. WSDOT upgraded the existing pass readers and extended their warranty to save money. Instead of paying $11,000 for each new reader, WSDOT upgraded the readers for $5,000 each. For the 14 readers on the Narrows Bridge, it is an $84,000 savings.
More improvements coming to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The next step in improving tolling on the bridge will start in December with the introduction of photo tolling. Drivers without a Good To Go! account will be able to bypass the toll booths and receive bill in the mail for a $5.50 toll. The system will identify their vehicles using automatically collected photo images of license plates. Drivers who choose to stop at a toll booth will continue to pay the $4 toll, while those who use a Good To Go! pass will continue to pay a $2.75 toll.
More information about Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolling is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/tnbtolling. To learn more about the Good To Go! program, visit www.wsdot.gov/GoodToGo.
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