Opinion

Tacoma Narrows Bridge: a tollpayer money pit

T acoma Narrows Bridge officials report revenues remain in good shape, yet the citizens advisory committee is contemplating yet another toll increase in July.

Are they kidding?

It hasn’t even been four months since the last increase and already the committee is in full swing discussing the next toll hike. Let’s not forget this bridge has only been open since July 2007. The recent increase saw a $1 hike taking the $1.75 charge for those with the Good To Go! electronic transponders to $2.75 and from $3 to $4 for those without transponders.

According to the Washington State Transportation Commission, there are two reasons for the increase: Bonds for the bridge construction costs must be paid every six months and the commission wants to maintain a discount for drivers with Good To Go! But why up the toll for drivers if the revenue stream is holding strong?

When the bridge initially opened, a toll schedule was announced. Unfortunately for those who travel across the bridge, that schedule is no longer being followed. The preliminary schedule put tolls at $4 for three years after the initial opening year. If they were to keep on schedule with what was presented to drivers in the beginning, tolls should remain at $4 for the next two years. With talks already initiated, it’s hard to believe this will actually be followed.

Tollpayers should have known this new bridge would be nothing but a strain on their pocketbooks when officials spent more than $260,000 just for the opening ceremony. That was just the beginning of what is quickly becoming a money pit. The state transportation commission is encouraging community members to offer their comments on toll hike issues. Four meetings are planned for Nov. 13, Nov.18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 4. Meeting locations have yet to be determined.

If you travel across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, even if only periodically, don’t let this issue slip through the cracks. Check out www.wsdot.wa.gov/Operations/Tolling/TNBTolling/CitizenAdvisoryCommittee for future meeting locations. Get involved and let the commission know enough is enough.

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