Using the Highway 99 tunnel? WSDOT offering free stickers you’ll need for lowest rates when tolling starts

The Highway 99 tunnel is expected to remain toll-free at least until late summer – here are the factors playing into the timeline, as presented to the Washington State Transportation Commission two weeks ago:

But WSDOT wants you to start preparing now, so starting today, it’s offering free Good to Go! sticker passes for tunnel users. If you don’t have one when tolling starts, you’ll be charged a higher toll rate, as explained in the announcement:

With a Good To Go! pass registered to an account, toll rates will range from $1 to $2.25, depending on the time of day. If drivers register their vehicle on an account, but don’t have a pass, it will cost 25 cents more per trip. Without a Good To Go! account, it will cost drivers $2 more per trip.

The sticker would normally cost $5. Be sure to order your free sticker via the instructions on this page – and also make note of the option to wait on activation (but NOT on sticker ordering) to avoid having to put money in your account in advance.

41 Replies to "Using the Highway 99 tunnel? WSDOT offering free stickers you'll need for lowest rates when tolling starts"

  • Seattlite May 1, 2019 (6:53 pm)

    I would like to  see the city do the right thing for the hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding middle class of Seattle and NOT charge them a HiWy 99 tunnel toll…ever.

    • Jethro Marx May 1, 2019 (7:42 pm)

      Yes! Let’s still toll poor people, richies, criminals, and people who only work easy, though.

    • heartless May 1, 2019 (7:46 pm)

      Hmm, can we charge tolls to lazy, tax-paying, law-abiding middles class citizens?  What about hard-working, tax-paying, semi-criminal middle class citizens?  Can we charge a toll just for people with a criminal record?  OOOH, I know!  We should only charge tolls for hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding lower class citizens. 

      Look, silliness aside we need to both encourage alternate forms of transportation–even if it’s just carpooling!–and start to reveal the actual cost of roadways and maintenance.

      ps I’ve noticed the same people that blanch at tolls never seem to have a problem with the bus or light rail costing money to ride–isn’t that odd?

      • Rick May 2, 2019 (5:46 am)

        Well then. I guess that makes it all OKEY DOKEY then. If somebody else did it, it’s all right.

    • HS May 1, 2019 (9:19 pm)

      While we’re on this topic, I’d like to not pay around $200+/mo on bus fare. And when necessary, I’d also prefer to not have to take two buses to get from one end of WS to the other, spending at least 30+ minutes because ‘your’ time doesn’t matter when you take public transportation. Trying “other forms of transportation” for the past year and a half has been great for my legs (walking quite a bit) but a real pain in the patootie.

      • Dodger May 2, 2019 (8:32 am)

        Lets not forget abiut the Wahington State Ferries either. The fares should be eliminated or greatly reduced.

      • Nolan May 2, 2019 (10:00 am)

        How, precisely, are you arriving at “$200+/mo on bus fare”? A monthly pass for standard fare is $99.

        • HS May 2, 2019 (10:55 am)

          Well, thank you Nolan. Your comment just saved me $130/mo. I mistakenly understood that regional passes were only for low income, youth/elder, disabled or via a company plan. I’ve been trying to use alternative forms of transport to live better (walk, experience my community more and for the climate because with some tweaks to my schedule, I can) and have been paying the regular fare of $2.75; hence, over $200+/mo.

          • newnative May 3, 2019 (12:23 pm)

            The more you know-Orca pass  The Orca card saves on the Water Taxi as well. If you have a regional pass and money on your e-purse, you only have to pay the difference each time. and it helps with using the light rail (transferring).

          • Jenny May 4, 2019 (8:01 am)

            If you paid $2.75 twice a day, every single day for a month it still wouldn’t equal close to $200. Somethings not adding up with your math. 

      • Me on 28th Ave SW May 4, 2019 (8:42 am)

        It could add up to $200 if you are taking more than two trips a day.  It isn’t that hard to do with errands, social events and work.  Transfers last two hours at most, right?

        • miws May 4, 2019 (9:08 am)

          Me on 28th, Yes, the ORCA transfer is 2 hours to the second, no grace period,  Tapping initially at 08:00, then on your next ride at 10:01, and you will be paying another fare, unlike the paper transfer for a cash/bus ticket fare that, at least back when I still paid cash several years ago, the drivers usually gave about 2 1/2 hours or more. —-Mike

    • wscommuter May 2, 2019 (9:44 am)

      Sigh.  “The City” isn’t charging anyone any tolls for the the tunnel.  Please pay attention.  Tolls are charged by the state – WSDOT.  And the reason tolls are charged is because … wait for it … it costs money to build infrastructure.   And since “the hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding middle class” apparently won’t vote to amend our state constitution to allow for an income tax that would more fairly tax higher income families, we have to fund part of our infrastructure through user-fees: tolls.  You have every right to wish for pixie dust to not have to pay for the stuff that improves our region.  but please at least deal in reality about that.  Don’t want to pay a toll?  Cool.  Please tell me how you would pay for our infrastructure?  I’d really like to know.     

    • 98126res May 3, 2019 (11:17 am)

      100% agree with Seattleite comments.. who is getting bullied by many here for his honest intelligent opinion. Taxes should support basic government functions – safety, infrastructure, etc, – NOT special interests or fattening general fund of unaccountable offices who lack transparency, e.g. Inslee spending $4M Taxpayer bucks on extra security for his failing stupid run for president.  While cracked sidewalks all around Seattle that our seniors use stay dangerous for years and years

    • Katyh May 3, 2019 (1:11 pm)

      The tunnel is a state project not a city of Seattle….blame the state.

    • Laughing May 4, 2019 (12:25 pm)

      Good Luck with that. 

    • Low income in WS May 5, 2019 (12:15 pm)

      How come the people who live in West Seattle are being tolled by the State more than the people who live in other parts of the city? All we want to do is be able to visit other parts of the city or surrounding areas.  But if we take the new Alternative of the 3 choices we have, we are charged.  Our tax money and license fee’s and gas taxes are supposed to pay for infrastructure.

  • CHRISTOPHE May 1, 2019 (7:48 pm)

    That doesn’t seem to make sense. They’ll plate recognition to charge, but because we add a sticker it’ll get cheaper??????Plus, the page you’re pointing to doesn’t seem to include an obvious link to get one of these stickers

    • WSB May 1, 2019 (8:36 pm)

      C – That’s the way they’ve been doing it for years on other tolled facilities. If you get a sticker, and therefore are in their system, it makes things easier for them. Meantime, as for the link, yes, it’s this page as linked above:
      See “step 2, fill out survey to get sticker.”

      S – I didn’t publish all the boilerplate from the news release. Guess I should have rather than assuming just because this has been reported many, many times before, everybody knows. From the full news release: “The SR 99 tunnel opened toll-free on Feb. 4, with the understanding that tolling would start after demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct along the waterfront and when a new tolling system was tested and operational. Tolling the new tunnel is required by the law. Tolls will help pay tunnel construction bonds as well as operation and maintenance of the two-mile long tunnel underneath downtown Seattle.”

    • LyndaB May 1, 2019 (8:37 pm)

      The sticker connects you a Good to go account (you have to register if you haven’t already) which will charge you less. The sticker is embedded with something like RFID.  You have to click on the survey which asks questions if you use other toll roads (i.e. 520, 405, 167).   If you do, then this sticker isn’t what you need.  That’s the short version explanation.  :)  I signed up for one.  

  • Sean May 1, 2019 (9:46 pm)

    I guess we have to pay for the cost overruns, incompetent management, multiple delays, Big Bertha fiasco, etc. Lovely, just lovely.

    • WSB May 2, 2019 (1:11 am)

      Tolling has been in the plan since before an ounce of earth was moved.
      Interesting discussion back in 2010:

      • chemist May 2, 2019 (9:03 am)

        True, but the 2014 toll advisory committee recommendation was also quite different.  Grumble.  Still, thanks for the notification so I could request a sticker/avoid the non-sticker penalty.”After studying eight potential toll scenarios (see traffic and revenue analysis later in this report), the Advisory Committee on Tolling and Traffic Management (ACTT Committee) supports a tolling strategy similar to Scenario 7, which meets the $200 million funding target for the program while minimizing diversion. Toll rates studied in Scenario 7 ($1 tolls 24 hours per day with a $1.25 toll during the 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. peak periods) generate more than $1 billion in gross revenue over 30 years. In addition to paying for the required capital contribution, this revenue can pay for expenses such as toll collection costs, operations and maintenance of the tunnel and transportation system improvements needed to address diversion.”

    • Rick May 2, 2019 (5:50 am)

      And you are surprised?

  • Bronson May 1, 2019 (10:29 pm)

    This is confusing. So if I have a transponder that works for the toll lanes on 405, do I still need a sticker too?

    • Springahead May 2, 2019 (6:16 am)

      Yes, I have the same question. Anybody figure it out yet?

    • Mark May 2, 2019 (6:51 am)

      Same question here.  I am assuming “yes” because my transponder works for all other Good To Go toll roads (520 bridge, 405 express lanes, and Tacoma Narrows Bridge), but I don’t know for sure.

    • JT May 2, 2019 (8:24 am)

      If you click on the second link in the article, you’ll see this statement from WSDOT: “If you already have a Good To Go! pass then you’re all set. All Good To Go! passes will work in the SR 99 tunnel.”

  • Joe Z May 1, 2019 (10:40 pm)

    Can’t wait for the tolling to start. There have been too many cars in the tunnel lately. Happy to pay a few bucks to avoid traffic. 

    • Swede. May 1, 2019 (11:10 pm)

      Good luck with that! You are aware that the tunnel have 33% less capacity than the viaduct had right?

      • Smittytheclown May 2, 2019 (5:47 am)

        Even on the worst of days (afternoon Ms game) it has been way better than the old viaduct.  From lower Queen Anne to West Seattle is typically 15-20 minutes.  While often slow, never stop and go like the viaduct was due to limited on ramps and lane switching (which cause brake tapping).  This doesn’t even factor in how long it took just to get “to” the damn thing!I am more than willing to lay a toll for this West Seattle godsend. 

        • K. Davis May 2, 2019 (9:48 am)

          That’s what I’ve found too – I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but my commuting whether using the tunnel or getting off/on at the stadiums has been pleasantly faster since the tunnel opened and the viaduct closed.  The only frustrating part has been some drivers who inexplicably feel scared to drive the speed limit of 45 in the tunnel and go 30 instead (please figure that out folks).  So far, so good.  I’m fine with the tolling … it pays for what we now get.  

          • smittytheclown May 2, 2019 (12:52 pm)

            That’s so funny.  I was just (mentally) yelling at someone this morning to GET GOING!  They were going 35 and lots of wide open space in front of them.  I keep thinking that it’s “first-timers” and that they will eventually will figure it out, but am now losing hope.  It’s some kind of  tunnel psychology.My only complaint is the merge getting to the southbound portal merge.  It’s turned into a free-for-all with no one observing the traffic lights.  It’s basically a double merge.That said, compared to the old viaduct crawl, this is heaven.

    • Canton May 1, 2019 (11:21 pm)

      Hope those Lexus lanes work for ya.  The working class folks, don’t mind paving your road with gold. Keep the peasants out, ya know. Move, out if my way, I tailgate ya, cuz I’m more important than you. Typical, WS bs. An honest question, to those that drive, is it a competition, to “F” the other drivers around you?

      • Q May 2, 2019 (8:43 am)

        Paying for the resources you use isn’t some crazy conspiracy as it turns out.

  • Railroaded May 2, 2019 (3:12 am)

    The new tunnel tolls seem very reasonable to me.

  • Karen May 2, 2019 (6:32 am)

    Thanks for posting this, Tracy.  I took the survey and the sticker is on it’s way.Karen

  • Lisa May 2, 2019 (8:39 am)

    For those who asked:”All Good To Go! passes will work in the SR 99 tunnel.”

  • WSRes May 2, 2019 (10:31 am)

    The Good to Go pass is for those who haven’t previously needed one and you save $5 start up fee.  My brother-in-law is a former state, city and private road engineer. they expect drivers will slow 5 to 10 mph when entering a tunnel.  Image that you’ll drive 70mph past a moving semi-truck, but freakout about a stationary tunnel wall.   Granted 99 has a little blind bend in it, so be cautious there.

  • wlcg06 May 5, 2019 (8:50 am)

    I believe road tolls are OK as long a we see something in return, like a specific portion allocated for regular major road repairs and rebuilds within the city. (My dream come true would be WSDOT handing King County some money for a complete tear down and repave of the entire length of Roxbury and Barton Streets. (They appear to be the  2 worst major arteries in King County area on a per traveler basis in my opinion. 35th Ave is a close 3rd.) Maybe this is already in the plan, but we don’t see many (any?) major road or sidewalk rebuilds as another post mentioned. I don’t consider the usual patchwork approach so common here, as a true road improvement.  So where is the money going? Another reasonable request would be a minimally reduced fare for Seattle city residents, which could be managed by the billing address. Having lived in Upstate New York State prior to moving to our beautiful WS, I am used to the tolls but the major roads are in far better condition in NY, even with the annual salting. WSDOT, I hope you’re reading this comment forum. If you toll us… fix our road infrastructure.

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