Announced Today: 520 Toll Kicks In Bright & Early On Dec. 29th, 2011

The much-anticipated– and much dreaded– 520 toll goes into effect at 5 am on Dec. 29th, 2011. Today’s announcement about the effective toll date is only 8 months behind schedule. Apparently the city of Bellevue spoke to state officials to encourage them to delay the tolls until the holiday shopping season was over, thus the Dec. 29th start date. I guess we can view it as a holiday gift to the Eastside from the city of Bellevue.

Twitter is abuzz about the 520 toll announcement. The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) is keeping track of all the replies and RTs of their announcement article by favoriting them. So far, most of the replies include the phrases, “Merry Christmas Seattle,” and “Happy New Year, Seattle.” Local economist Matthew Gardner (@SeattleEcon) tweets, “Tolling starts on the 520 bridge on 12/29. Get used to I-90 turning into a parking lot!”

What are the basics you need to know about the 520 toll? First, there will be no toll booths on this state route. You’ll need to purchase a Good to Go transponder and set up a Good to Go account. Transponders are available to purchase at Fred Meyer, Safeway, QFC, Costco and a Good to Go customer service center located at 13107 NE 20th Street, Suites 3 & 4, in Bellevue. Second, if you don’t have a transponder and you drive on 520, a photo will be snapped of your license plate so a bill can be mailed to you. That bill will also include a $1.50 handling fee. Third, the toll rates will vary depending on the time of day. Take a look at the a toll rate chart published by the Seattle Times.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think that come the New Year that I-90 will turn into a parking lot during commuting hours? Will you change your routes to avoid 520?