(The Center Square) – Washington state officials have given preliminary early approval to increase tolls on Interstate 405 and State Route 167, hinting a preference toward the pricier of two options.
A representative of the state’s trucking industry says the hike will hit consumers in their pocketbooks regardless of whether they use the toll road.
The State Transportation Commission reviewed proposals Tuesday to increase tolls to a maximum of either $12 or $15 on the two roadways in 2024.
The commission didn’t formally approve the rate increases but approved a discussion in November that will lead to a decision at that time. Under their plan, rates would increase in early 2024 and potentially to $18 in 2025.
Commission Deputy Director Carl See told commissioners that an increase from the current rate of $9 to a maximum of $12 wouldn’t “move the needle” in terms of shoring up costs they expect from current and future construction on the 50-mile toll system.
“Twelve dollars doesn’t bring a lot forward for that,” he told commissioners Tuesday. “Fifteen is still a small contribution, quite small compared to the funding gap that there is, but it would still bring something more substantial.”
According to KING 5, See said the tollway lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and faced a deficit from two projects approved by the state Legislature that didn’t come with appropriate funding.
Sheri Call, president & CEO of the Washington Trucking Associations, said such an increase in tolls on a major thoroughfare will decrease use of the roadway.
“This ultimately impacts each and every consumer,” she said. “Congestion costs the trucking industry millions in lost productivity every year, the impact has a ripple effect on the economy and on driver wellness, which ultimately affects the industry’s ability to attract and maintain its workforce. Ultimately making it a broader supply chain issue.”