State House passes highway tolling bills
March 7, 2011 · Updated 5:16 PM
The state House passed a pair of bills Saturday that would authorize tolling on major Eastside highways.
House Bill 1382 narrowly passed by a 52-46 margin. The bill authorizes high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes lanes in which single drivers can pay to use carpool lanes, as with the system on State Route 167.
Opposition Republicans made amendments in attempt to stop general purpose lanes built with gas tax funds from being tolled and exempt cars with two occupants from tolls, both of which failed.
A similar bill failed to get out of the Senate last year because of confusion over how the concept would operate. Legislators spent the next year scrutinizing the plan, and an expert review panel approved the concept in November.
The four representatives from the 41st and 48th districts, all sponsors of the bill, voted in favor.
The bill contains a hefty financial study to determine how a second phase, south from Bellevue, connecting to State Route 167, can be undertaken.
Senate Bill 5700, which would install tolling equipment on the State Route 520 bridge to pay for a replacement crossing, passed 73-25. Washington State Department of Transportation represents have said they want to begin tolling by April, and this vote should make that deadline a reality.
Tolling is expected to pay for at least $1 billion of the $4.6 billion project. The project is still nearly $2 billion short of having the needed financing.
Tolls on the bridge would vary by time of day with the most expensive rates ($3.50 each way), coming during commuting hours of 7-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.