MLS Cup traffic could be tougher because of tunnel tolls

VIDEO: SR 99 tunnel tolling to being Sunday

SEATTLE — Tolls in the State Route 99 tunnel begin Saturday morning, just in time to add to traffic jams around Sunday's MLS Cup.

When state officials chose the date for the first weekend of tolls, they found a holiday weekend with no major home sporting events.

That changed when the Sounders advanced to the MLS Cup.

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"We're so excited for the Sounders and we're rooting for them and just hope folks really think through how they get to that game and get home," said Heather Marx, the Seattle Department of Transportation's downtown mobility director. "Using transit is going to be a really good choice for you this weekend."

The push to take transit is even more important with the start of tunnel tolls.

The city expects around 30% of tunnel drivers, maybe more, will steer clear of the tunnel to avoid paying.

Tolls range between $1 and $2.25 with a Good to Go pass, depending on the time of day.

Alaskan Way, First Avenue and other downtown streets could be clogged.

"We'll be watching not only how traffic operates on Sunday, but the entire weekend, the holiday on Monday and then, of course, the big Tuesday first commute," said Ed Barry, director of the Washington State Department of Transportation Toll Division.

Also this weekend, the eastbound lanes on the State Route 520 bridge will close.

They'll reopen Monday with another lane reduction for construction that lasts until 2023.

A lot of people are still not ready for tolls to begin in the tunnel.

WSDOT officials said Friday that, of the 60,000 free passes they gave away, only 20% have been activated.

Without a Good to Go account, drivers will pay $2 dollars more each trip when machines read license plates and send a bill in the mail.