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How much should state save for Tacoma Narrows bridge toll emergency?

A citizens group that advises the state on policy for the Tacoma Narrows bridges will meet Tuesday to discuss changing the way money is saved to cover operating costs in case of a tolling emergency.

The future of the so-called “sufficient minimum balance” set aside for possible revenue shortfalls will be a main topic of discussion by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge citizen advisory committee.

The public is invited.

Current policy calls for 12.5 percent of operating costs for the two bridges to be saved.

Money from that account would pay back bonds “in the event of unexpected circumstances that would disrupt toll collections,” according to the state Department of Transportation.

The fund currently contains about $10 million.

The Washington Transportation Commission has proposed eliminating the 12.5 percent requirement and replacing it with a flat level of $10 million.

A flat fee would reduce the amount available in the account by as much as $1.7 million in fiscal year 2021. That still would be enough to cover debt service or a $10 million deductible attached to an insurance policy for revenue loss, according to state records.

Members of the citizens advisory committee have advocated for some time for a change, in part to reduce the burden on tollpayers. Toll revenue is used to maintain the minimum balance.

The committee also has suggested asking the Legislature to subsidize tolls and explore other options to reduce upcoming costs associated with maintaining and operating the bridges.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

If you go

The meeting of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge citizen advisory committee will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview St.

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