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Thursday, December 29, 2011
WSDOT Communications/Emergency Operations Center, 206-440-4984
WSDOT 24-hour communications, 206-437-6314
Smooth first day of tolling on SR 520 floating bridge
Tolling system works well, drivers did their part
SEATTLE – Tolling on the State Route 520 bridge began as planned at 5 a.m. today, when the first tolled car since June 1979 crossed the bridge.
The all-electronic toll collection systems appear to be accurately tracking thousands of transactions at freeway speeds. There was a notable increase in drivers using active Good To Go! passes, from about 25 percent Wednesday to about 75 percent Thursday morning.
“It was a good first day,” said Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation. “Drivers were prepared, and many had Good To Go! passes. Traffic was light, which also allowed the transition to tolling to proceed smoothly.”
Traffic was light Thursday, typical for the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Drivers appeared to shift their commute to alternate routes after toll collections began. On the SR 520 floating bridge, traffic volumes were about 45 percent lower compared to earlier this week. Traffic volumes on the Interstate 90 bridge and on SR 522 were somewhat higher than normal for the holiday week. Travel times were not noticeably affected.
“This is about what we expected,” Stone said. “We know people are testing new routes to avoid the new tolled bridge. This is also a holiday week so overall traffic is unusually light. We want to make sure drivers are prepared for Jan. 3, when people head back to work and school is back in session. We expect to see a very different traffic picture then.”
Good To Go! passes
The all-electronic toll system worked reliably from 5 a.m. when the first toll rate was displayed. The toll rates changed precisely on schedule. The toll system effectively tracked the Good To Go! passes. It may take several days to calculate data about photo-tolling.
“The system showed that nearly 75 percent of the drivers during this morning peak commute had Good To Go! passes,” Stone said. At midday, those rates dropped to 65 percent. “Daily commuters are more likely to get a pass. Drivers who use the bridge less frequently, for errands or leisure trips, may not. We exceeded our goal of 50 percent pass transactions on the first day, and we hope to see these positive trends continue. Our one year goal is 80 percent.”
Customer service centers
Drivers are opening Good To Go! accounts at a record-breaking pace with more than
83 percent of the activations taking place online. Wednesday reports show nearly 7,000 accounts activated. A total of 146,000 accounts have been activated since February and more than 222,000 passes sold. Up to six passes can be linked to the same account.
There was a short period during the day when the customer service representatives were temporarily unable to access the accounts at the customer centers and wait times stretched to about 45 minutes at the Bellevue and University District centers. Account holders were still able to access and activate accounts online, Stone said. Passes are available at five retail outlets: Costco, Fred Meyer, QFC, Safeway and Walgreens.
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.
For more information:
• 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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