520 Floating Bridge
11:38 am
Wed February 16, 2011

Preparing for tolls, get your "Good to Go" pass early

Tolls on the old 520 bridge across Lake Washington are coming soon--likely starting in April.

It's an all-electronic system, so there won't be an option to just throw some coins into a box. You'll need a special pass on the windshield of your car. The price of driving over the floating span between Seattle and Bellevue will vary, depending on the time of day.  

State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond put on a happy face as she reminded folks to get ready to pay as much as $3.50 each way at the height of rush hour.

"The average commuter should think about their trips, understand what their travel patterns are, and if they're trying to budget, do the math," says Hammond.

After 9pm, for example, the toll drops to $1.60. The Seattle Times has published a graphic showing how the tolls vary by time of day and day of the week.

The system is already in use on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Called "Good To Go," it utilizes scanning technology that reads the tags. The toll is automatically deducted from prepaid accounts. Drivers who don't have a tag inside their windshields will get a higher bill in the mail.  They have to pay more. 

Special incentives to buy a Good-to-Go pass:

  • Purchase by April 15th, and get $10 worth of free tolls
  • Get a $5 credit toward $50 of groceries, if you buy your transponder at one of 84 Safeway stores

The revenue from the tolls will help pay for construction of a new floating bridge on Lake Washington. The tolls will raise about a billion dollars, but the project is still short of the funds needed to finish the Seattle side of the structure.

Construction has already started on pontoons for a replacement bridge. The old one is vulnerable in high winds and stormy weather.