Its official: Tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will increase 25 cents starting July 1, with another 25-cent toll increase set for July 1, 2014.
As expected, the Washington State Transportation Commission voted in favor of the toll hikes held after a final public hearing Monday evening at the Gig Harbor Civic Center.
Tolls on the eastbound bridge will rise this summer to $4.25 for electronic payment, $5.25 cash and $6.25 pay by mail.
Commission members said their task was difficult, but in the end they voted unanimously. Theyre looking at rising payments on the debt incurred from construction of the 2007 bridge. Budgeted debt payments total $45.3 million in the current budget year and will increase to $54.3 million in the year that starts July 1. Meanwhile, bridge traffic has not met expectations.
The numbers were no comfort to those who will be further squeezed by tolls that went up last summer, too.
Its having an impact on people here, said Gig Harbor resident Jerry Dixon, who said he carefully budgets how many times he crosses the bridge each month. Its really hurting.
Gig Harbors Sandy Handy said tolls already interfere with her volunteer work in Tacoma.
It just adds up so fast, she said. My quality of life is being determined in a way by how much this toll costs.
Chairman Dan ONeal said the commission reserves the right to re-examine the 2014 toll increase.