The Washington State Transportation Commission will take comments from the public on the potential toll increase on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge during a series of upcoming meetings.
The commission will host one online, virtual public meeting and two public input meetings. There is currently a proposal on the table for a 50 cent increase this year and an additional 50 cent increase next year. The new rate will take effect on July 1.
While the toll proposal is pretty difficult to avoid due to a financing structure set in the early-2000s, there is still time to offer ideas and opinion of the rate increase.
“The wiggle room is pretty limited, but they are taking input on the rates,” said Reema Griffith, Washington State Transportation Commission executive director.
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The bridge is a rock-and-a-hard-place situation. The financing assumed a gradual increase in traffic, but with the recession the increase didn’t go according to plan, Griffith said.
“We’re just kind of facing an unfortunate financing structure that we can’t get out of,” Griffith said.
The upcoming meetings also serve as a public outreach opportunity, Griffith said. It’s a time to share information to help understand the tolls and the bridge financing structure.
Griffith empathizes with those who are troubled by the increase.
“We totally get it, no one wants to pay more for anything,” she said.
Meeting dates and times are:
• 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 15: Online Virtual Public Input Meeting.
• 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 22 at Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.
• 6 to 8 p.m., May 20, Gig Harbor Civic Center.
The commission will take final action on the toll rate proposal at the May 20 meeting.
To access the virtual meeting on April 15, use a computer, tablet or smart phone. If using a tablet or smart phone, download the application called ClickMeeting. A webcam is not required to participate.
On the day of the meeting, a phone number and PIN, web URL and ID number will be provided at wstc.wa.gov.