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Latest plan to pay off Tacoma Narrows Bridge wouldn't eliminate tolls

Tolls would be reduced by 75 cents under the latest proposal being considered in the Senate.

TACOMA, Wash. — The toll for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge would be reduced, not eliminated, under the latest plan being considered by lawmakers in Olympia. 

Lawmakers discussed paying off the bridge's entire outstanding debt and eliminate tolls within two years by transferring $722 million from the state's surplus fund. That was scaled back Monday, with senators proposing the state treasurer makes quarterly transfers from the general fund of $3.2 million over 10 years, for a total of $130 million.

The legislation would reduce the toll for drivers by 75 cents.

Tolls for the Narrows Bridge increased by about 25 cents in October, following approval from the Washington State Transportation Commission. Eastbound drivers who have a Good To Go! pass now pay $5.25 to use the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. People paying with cash or card at the toll booth pay $6.25 per trip. It's $7.25 if you're paying by mail.

State Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) sponsored the original legislation, citing that the community on the Kitsap peninsula should "get the infrastructure investments we need and deserve."

“We have long raised our voices together about the problems with the way this bridge was financed, and the inequity of leaving toll payers responsible for nearly all of the cost," Randall said at the time.

According to Randall, the bridge's $729 million construction costs will end up being closer to $1.48 billion. The original legislation would have paid off the debt nearly a decade early by spending $672 million for outstanding principal and interest, $57 million for deferred sales tax on construction, and $43 million loaned by the state to freeze toll rates.

The quarterly payments of $3.2 million from the state would end July 1, 2032 under the current proposal.

The proposal heads to the Senate floor for debate.

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