Toll rates approved for SR 99 tunnel

The toll rates are set for the new State Route 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle.

SEATTLE — On Tuesday, the Washington State Transportation Commission unanimously approved a tolling plan for the new State Route 99 tunnel in downtown Seattle.

Much like other toll roads, the price will depend on what time drivers use the tunnel.

With a Good to Go! pass, on weekends and overnight the tunnel will cost $1.

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Drivers will spend either $1.25 or $1.50 during the morning commute and $2.25 for the peak rush hours of 3 to 6 p.m.

"People are already really frustrated with trying to get around downtown. I-5 is a continuing challenge, so drivers don't really have a viable option, and, so, we want the tunnel to work, we'll make sure it works, so if that means we have to adjust toll rates down the road, we may have to,” said Washington State Transportation Commission Executive Director Reema Griffith.

According to WSDOT, as many as 7,000 cars every hour will soon be driving through the new SR 99 tunnel.

Transportation officials said drivers will see big changes when the tunnel opens in early 2019.

One huge difference, is the fact the tunnel doesn't have exits.

“You're not going to be able to exit in downtown. You're going to get in on one end and come out the other, so that's going to have people figure out their commutes,” said Griffith.

The tunnel spans from the Space Needle to the sports stadiums, replacing the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The tunnel will be free initially when it opens in early 2019. WSDOT said tolls will begin summer 2019 or later.
"In the meantime, it's really important that the tunnel open and drivers have a chance to use the tunnel, learn the new alignment, it is a very different alignment than what people are used to as compared to the viaduct," said Griffith.

Once tolling begins, prices will go up 3 percent every three years, which adds about $0.05. The increases start July 2022.

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