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Here’s what State Route 99 tunnel tolls could look like

Tolls will likely be between $1 and $2.25—but the state is still working out timing

The future entrance on the north side of the tunnel, pictured in March 2018.
Sarah Anne Lloyd

After years of drama and delays surrounding the State Route 99 tunnel, the opening of the brand-new roadway is in sight: The tunnel could replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct as early as this fall. Although the tunnel won’t be tolled the second it opens, tolls have always been a part of the plan—and are coming eventually. According to current draft plans from the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), those tolls could be anywhere between $1 and $2.25, although rates as high as $2.50 were discussed at a meeting back in April.

WSTC is asking for public input on three options that will take effect from 2019 to 2021, with roughly the same price range, but different timing—and different rate increases after the initial tolling period.

In all alternatives, the lowest rate—applicable on weekends, the very late night, and very early morning—is $1, with the toll rising during higher traffic period. In all cases, the toll would be its highest, $2.25, between 3 and 6 p.m. While there are some differences in how the price ramps up and down, none of them really differ more than 25 cents (50 cents in one case) at any given time.

Proposed tolling rates for the SR 99 tunnel

Toll Rate Hours Option A Option B Option C
Toll Rate Hours Option A Option B Option C
12 to 6 a.m. $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
6 to 7 a.m. $1.25 $1.25 $1.25
7 to 9 a.m. $1.50 $1.50 $1.50
9 to 10 a.m. $1.25 $1.25 $1.25
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. $1.25 $1.00 $1.25
2 to 3 p.m. $1.25 $1.50 $1.25
3 to 6 p.m. $2.25 $2.25 $2.25
6 to 8 p.m. $1.25 $1.50 $1.75 (6 to 7)/$1.25 (7 to 11)
8 p.m. to 12 a.m. $1.00 $1.00 $1 (11 to 12)
Weekends $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Proposed SR 99 tunnel tolling rates for two-axle vehicles. Washington State Transportation Commission

While some pricing structures are more complicated than others (option A has four different toll rates over six time periods, as opposed to option B and C, which have more going on), a substantial difference lies is what happens after these toll rates. In Option A, all tolls are subject to across-the-board, 3 percent raises every three years. Option B—which is the only one to have a $1 toll in the middle of a weekday—would have annual 3.5 percent increases for five years starting in July 2020. Option C would have 5 percent increases in July of 2024, 2029, and 2034.

WSTC will be holding a public comment period through July. In addition to taking comments online, by phone, and via mail, there will be three public comment meetings: one downtown on June 4, another in West Seattle on June 5, and one in Phinney Ridge on June 6.

The commission will present its final proposal for review in mid-July, and plans to formally adopt toll rates this fall. No implementation timeline for the tolls has been set.