Since electronic tolling started on the State Route 520 floating bridge a year ago, drivers are avoiding 520 and moving to I-90.
With that, the state is taking a very serious look at balancing the traffic and putting tolls on I-90 as well.
Like many Bellevue commuters, Lisa Trinidad takes I-90 from her Capitol Hill home in Seattle to her Bellevue job.
“I’d rather not pay a toll,” said Trinidad.
She has joined the 30% of drivers who have abandoned 520 since tolling began last year.
“We are very pleased with it. It’s a great program,” said Craig Stone, assistant secretary for the WSDOT Toll Division.
Stone says the state has made $50 million in tolling revenues in the past year, and, 520 drivers are saving an average of five minutes on their trip across 520.
Here’s the new normal in cross lake traffic pattern: 520 traffic has dropped by 30 percent. I-90 traffic is up 11 percent.
Now, WSDOT is determined to balance the bridges. If the state Legislature and the U.S. Transportation Department agree, I-90 tolling may be in the near future.
“What we will be doing in the new year, 2013, is studying the tolling of I-90. In January, we will have public meetings,” said Stone.
WSDOT warns people to pay overdue tolls. About 10,000 drivers are at risk of losing their car registration if they have not paid up.
Before tolling began, WSDOT predicted a 48 percent drop in traffic on 520. That prediction actually matched the actual drop in traffic at the start of tolling, but traffic volumes have since steadily increased and are at 70 percent of pre-toll levels.