State Transportation Commission to select toll rate proposals, kick off process to name next ferry

Travelers who use Washington’s tolled highways will learn next week what the new proposed toll rates will be for those facilities. The Washington State Transportation Commission will meet virtually to select its toll rate increase proposals for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the State Route 99 tunnel, and the State Route 520 bridge. In addition, the commission will begin its process to select a name for the state’s next new ferry.

The virtual meeting starts at 9 a.m. both Tuesday, July 20, and Wednesday, July 21. Due to COVID-19 limitations for Washington state agencies, the meeting will be conducted using Zoom Webinar. People interested in attending can register on the commission’s website. The meeting will be broadcast live on TVW at www.tvw.org.

After reviewing public input, the commission on Tuesday will select its toll rate proposals for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, SR 99 tunnel, and SR 520 bridge. From June 28 to July 14, the commission used an online input forum that enabled the public to review rate increase options, identify their preferences, and offer comments. The public will be able to continue commenting on the commission’s selected toll rate proposals through Monday, Aug. 16.  The final hearing, where the commission expected to vote on the final toll rate changes, will be on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 10 a.m. For more information on the commission’s rate setting process and proposals, visit the commission’s web site at: Toll Roads & Bridges – Rates, Policies & More – Washington State Transportation Commission.

Tuesday afternoon, the commission will receive an update on the Interstate 405/State Route 167 Express Toll Lanes Low-Income Tolling Study and determine its recommendations to the Legislature. The study has assessed potential discounts for low-income drivers on the I-405/SR 167 express toll lanes. A final report of findings and recommendations will be submitted to the Legislature in late August.

In addition, the commission will be briefed on the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s (ITSA) 2021 Policy Blueprint. The ITSA policies are designed to advance the research, development, and deployment of transportation technologies to improve the transportation system at the national level by making it safer, greener, and smarter.

On Wednesday, the commission will learn about efforts intended to address homeless encampments on Washington State Department of Transportation right of way. The commission will hear from the Governor’s Office, WSDOT, and cities on how they are managing the effect of homelessness on traveling public and the state transportation system.

The commission will be briefed on the status of two WSDOT studies underway regarding the planned expansion of the I-405/SR 167 express toll lane system. In response to the unforeseen impacts created by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2021 Legislature directed WSDOT to assess possible changes to the currently proposed projects and timelines, as well as determine possible modifications in how the projects will be funded.

Also on Wednesday, the commission will kick-off their ferry naming process, discussing how the public can get involved and submit name proposals for the state’s new Olympic Class 144-car ferry vessel.

Questions or comments from the public can be submitted during the virtual meeting by using the “Q&A” function found on-screen. As time allows, questions will be addressed during the meeting. Written comments can also be submitted via email until 4 p.m. the day before the meeting. Comments should be sent to transc@wstc.wa.gov. Written comments received after this deadline will be provided to commissioners after the meeting.

For more information about the commission and complete meeting agendas, visit: www.wstc.wa.gov/meetings/

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