(The Center Square) – Washington state officials have given preliminary approval to raise tolls on Interstate 405 and State Route 167, hinting at a preference for the more expensive of the two options.
A representative for the state’s trucking industry says the hike will hit consumers’ wallets whether they use the toll road or not.
The National Transportation Commission on Tuesday considered proposals to increase tolls to a maximum of $12 or $15 on both routes in 2024.
The commission has not formally approved the rate increases, but approved a discussion in November that will lead to a decision at that time. Under their plan, rates would increase in early 2024 and could reach $18 in 2025.
Commission Deputy Director Carl See told commissioners that an increase from the current rate of $9 to a maximum of $12 would not “move the ball rolling” in terms of the cost consolidation they expect from the current and future construction of the 50 mile toll system.
“Twelve dollars doesn’t do much,” he told commissioners Tuesday. “Fifteen is still a small contribution, quite small compared to the funding gap that exists, but it would still bring something more substantial.”
According to To KING 5, See said the turnpike has lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and is facing a deficit due to two projects approved by the state legislature that lacked funding appropriate.
Sheri Call, president and CEO of the Washington Trucking Associations, said such an increase in tolls on a major thoroughfare would reduce use of the road.
“Ultimately, it impacts every consumer,” she said. “Congestion costs the trucking industry millions of dollars in lost productivity each year, its impact has a ripple effect on the economy and on driver well-being, ultimately affecting the ability of the industry to attract and retain its workforce.