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February 7, 2011 at 3:48 PM

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Highway 520 tolling bills filed, with an emergency clause

Posted by Mike Lindblom

State lawmakers filed a pair of bills Monday to enact Highway 520 tolls, in hopes of keeping the state Department of Transportation on schedule to start collecting by April.

Tolls would vary by time of day, costing $3.50 each direction at peak times. The so-called "early tolling" on the bridge would help raise funds to cover $1 billion in construction bonds for the $4.65 billion corridor.

A full rate chart is here. Drivers who lack a state-issued "Good to Go" transponder would pay extra, and be billed through the mail. There would be no toll booths.

The legislation is a response to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053, which among other things requires that tolls and fees be enacted by lawmakers, instead of unelected commissions. Eyman has said I-1053 would make it more difficult to raise fees and taxes, and make legislators more accountable.

Senate Bill 5700 and House Bill 1887 would write into law the toll rates that the state Transportation Commission approved Jan. 5.

Also, the legislation would enact a pay-by-mail toll of $5.50 this spring for drivers on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in lieu of a $52 citation. Cash tolls are $4 and Good to Go users pay $2.75, when driving east into Tacoma.

Sponsors in the Senate are Transportation Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, and Curtis King, R-Yakima. In the House, they are Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island; Marcie Maxwell, D-Renton; Ross Hunter, D-Medina; and Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee.

The bills include an emergency clause saying the law would take effect immediately.

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