Seeking a way to fund the state's many transit and transportation projects, officials in Washington are considering a plan that would put a highway tolling bill in front of the state legislature early next year -- a bill many believe would pass.
"Transportation leaders say they're confident they can pass legislation next year that will create a framework for how tolls will be imposed and collected down the road. That might not mean tolls will be collected anytime soon, however."
"The bill as drafted says the Legislature would have sole authority to impose tolls, thus excluding local jurisdictions. Toll prices would be set by the Washington State Transportation Commission, an appointed body. The bill would allow tolls to continue to be collected after a project is paid off – a significant departure from current policy. Finally, the legislation permits toll prices to fluctuate between peak and off-peak travel times, which is called 'variable pricing.' Other key decisions will be whether tolling can be used to manage demand and whether money raised from tolls could be applied broadly - say, to underwrite transit."
"Lawmakers say the failure of Proposition 1, the Puget Sound-area roads-and-transit ballot measure, is contributing to a speeded timeline for imposing tolls. The money is needed to fund mega-projects like replacement of the Highway 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington. Officials are trying to come up with a financing plan by Jan. 1."