So how many people are dodging the Highway 99 tunnel now that tolls are being charged? We’re just out of a downtown briefing where WSDOT and SDOT reps shared the answer, which is basically: Not as much as feared. They cited Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday data, saying that over those three days, tunnel volume averaged no more than 30 percent below pre-toll levels. (There had been projections suggesting up to 50 percent “diversion.”) Alaskan Way, accessible from the pre-tunnel Dearborn exit from NB 99, had somewhat higher usage, but 1st and 4th were “typical.”
Too soon to declare a definitive trend, cautioned WSDOT’s toll-operations director Ed Barry and SDOT’s downtown-mobility director Heather Marx, but that’s what they have so far. About 75% of those going through the tunnel had eiiher a Good To Go pass or account, so the other 25 percent will be getting bills in the mail. (If you’re waiting for the system upgrade that will allow you to use GTG without putting $30 in the account first, that’s not going to be available until next year. We recorded the briefing/Q&A, held in SDOT’s Traffic Management Center, on video, and will add it after we get back to HQ.
ADDED 5:44 PM: Above, video of the entire briefing/Q&A, which lasted just under 15 minutes. Side note: Pre-briefing, we asked Marx about the pre-tunnel bus lane, the length of which was tweaked some weeks back. She said it’s “working exactly as planned” and that its importance will increase even further when buses switch to Alaskan Way, which she said is expected to happen in January.