SEATTLE - A year after tolls began on the 520 Bridge across Lake Washington, the state Department of Transportation says the program is on track to meet its goals.
The tolls began last December to earn more than $1 billion toward the $4.65 billion needed for a new, safer bridge and HOV program.
After a year, the tolls have brought in about $50 million and 96 percent of all tolls are paid within 80 days.
Toll rates are scheduled to increase in July as the second of four planned 2.5 percent annual rate increases through 2015.
WSDOT said the goals for revenue, number of trips paid with Good to Go! passes and congestion management have been exceeded or met.
WSDOT said the variable toll rates have helped manage traffic because drivers are adjusting their trips to get the lower toll rates during the off-peak hours. Travel times are about 5 minutes less during peak hours, and weekday traffic volumes across Lake Washington are about 5 percent lower than before the tolls. Find interesting post-tolling 520 Bridge facts in our 520 Bridge section.
The existing SR 520 floating bridge opened to traffic in 1963, and is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after decades of wind and waves. The new bridge will better withstand storms and move more people across the lake with a new transit/HOV lane for buses and carpools in each direction, WSDOT said.
The target date to open the new bridge to traffic is December 2014.