Tolling on the 520 Bridge Begins Tomorrow, Dec. 29th, 2011

When the news broke a few weeks ago about the 520 toll finally kicking in , the internet was buzzing with dialogue about it. Now that the toll sets in at 5 am tomorrow, Dec. 29th, you may have questions about using the 520 bridge and paying the toll. Here’s a top 10 list of 520 toll questions, courtesy of the WSDOT and King5 News, that addresses some of those questions.

The #1 question on the list is about the WSDOT Good To Go pass– are you set if you purchased the pass? It’s not enough to just purchase the sticker pass at a retail location. You also need to establish a pre-paid Good to Go account and activate your pass. Once you’ve activated your pass, the sticker needs to be placed on your car, using the included instruction that come with the pass.

The cost of the 520 toll is also high on the list. Here’s a handy-dandy toll rate chart. The toll cost fluctuates depending on the time of day, and if it’s a weekday or weekend day. The rate chart also shows the difference in toll costs for those who have a Good to Go pass versus those who choose to pay by mail.

A few of the questions on the list inquire about other routes around Lake Washington, like I-90 and 522, and how the toll will effect the traffic on alternate routes. While the WSDOT can’t predict traffic flow, the general consensus is these routes will experience heavier traffic once the 520 toll begins. More traffic on the already busy I-90 bridge is an important subject to Mercer Island residents, since the traffic flow on I-90 impacts their ability to commute off island.

Now if you are interested in alternatives to paying the 520 bridge toll, seven phone apps have hit the market to help local drivers navigate around the 520 toll. Five out of the seven apps are compatible with Windows phones. While that’s a large number of Windows phone apps, for a platform notorious for being app deficient, it’s not surprising when you consider the Microsoft presence on the Eastside, especially at the other end of 520. GeekWire’s article on the apps shares detailed information about each of the seven, along with GeekWire’s recommendations based on the smart phone platform.

Now it’s your turn— what are your thoughts about the 520 toll impact non-toll routes like I-90? If you are a Mercer Island resident, how do you think your off-island commuting will change based on the 520 toll?

Photo Courtesy of the WSDOT

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?