11:02 AM: Today the signage for the Highway 99 tunnel says FREE, but not for much longer. At a media briefing near the tunnel’s north end, WSDOT has just announced tolling will begin November 9. Details to come.
11:23 AM: The briefing is wrapping up and there’s been another announcement of sorts: SDOT’s Heather Marx says they are about to announce a plan for addressing the West Seattle bus slowdowns. Plus they’ll have a plan for the Dearborn demolition of the remaining Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition. The reroute details are almost ready to go.
11:46 AM: New since the announcement:
Already on the signage: pic.twitter.com/9wPlJXA9Kl
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) August 26, 2019
A few other notes from the briefing: If you already have a Good To Go! sticker, you’re set. If not, get one – you can do it online, free if you act fast.
Otherwise, if you take the tunnel once tolling begins but don’t have one, you’ll get a bill in the mail, at a higher rate (as is the case now with other WSDOT facilities that use GTG such as the 520 bridge across Lake Washington). With GTG, as set by the state Transportation Commission last year, the tolls will range from $1 to $2.25 depending on time of day. The tolls are meant to raise $200 million of the tunnel’s cost.
Another note from the briefing – a few new SDOT catchphrases detected. For example, Marx (who lives in West Seattle) repeatedly stressed that your “commute decision is a community decision.” Also, she mentioned a new program that’ll involve large employers, to be called Flip Your Trip. Also, a repeated reminder that years of the “Seattle Squeeze” remain.
The WSDOT and SDOT reps acknowledge – as they have all along – that the start of tolling could lead to a significant amount of “diversion” – people avoiding the tunnel – possibly up to 50 percent at the start. Currently they say the tunnel is up to about 80,000 vehicles a day.