Rep. Jesse Young continues to move forward to stop toll increases on Tacoma Narrows Bridge in House supplemental transportation budget

Within the next year, tolls are set to increase on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Rep. Jesse Young is continuing the efforts to fight future toll increases through an amendment that was approved in the House supplemental transportation budget.

“I have heard time and time again the concerns of constituents who wonder when the increases on the bridge will end,” said Young, R-Gig Harbor. “The bridge is used by thousands of people each day in order to get to and from work, school and recreational activities at a considerable cost. It is a disappointment that the continued toll increases have become the status quo rather than sitting down and finding a solution. We need to take the overall toll reduction to the next level.”

House Bill 2524, the supplemental transportation budget, was voted on Thursday on the House Floor. It passed by a vote of 84 to 13 . Rep. Young introduced an amendment that would allow for $2.5 million in funding of the motor vehicle state appropriation account be provided solely for a debt service payment and withholding for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, with the intent of forestalling the need for the Washington state transportation commission to raise toll rates for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for fiscal year 2017.

“This is a multi-branch collaboration between the Legislature, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen's Advisory Committee and the state Transportation Commission,” said Young. “This $2.5 million in bi-partisan, bi-district appropriation keeps from raising tolls on our area commuters until a long-term solution is worked out.”

“I applaud today's action by the House of Representatives to assist in funding the debt service for the bridge,” said Bruce Beckett, Chair of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). “After lengthy review of the financial status of the bridge, the CAC recently recommended that tolls not be increased for nearly 70 percent for bridge users this upcoming year. The action today by the House should allow for much needed relief from annual hikes in tolls for all users of the bridge. We appreciate the hard work of Rep. Young and Transportation Chair Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, in finding this solution.”

Fellow CAC member, Randy Boss added, “Thank you Rep. Young, we, at the CAC, believe this to be the first step toward increased use of the facility which will result in increased revenue and lower toll rates for years to come.”

Young also secured a study to pursue House Bill 2717, the Toll by Coffee Act, which has also been included in the supplemental transportation budget. This study will inspire the idea of private enterprise to lease the land surrounding the toll booths to concessionaires to create toll plazas that provide food and drink, goods, or rest areas to drivers as long as they also collect the tolls for the road in an efficient manner. The leasing fees will be dedicated toward paying down the bridge lease as a preemptive offset to future toll raises on commuters.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov