Highway 520 tolling begins Thursday

Hopefully most of us who live in Snohomish County don’t have to use the Highway 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington much, but anyone who does, get ready: tolling begins at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Tolls vary depending on the day and time the bridge is crossed, ranging from $2.60 to $5. An image is taken of the license plate of each vehicle that crosses the bridge and the driver receives a bill. The state is selling “Good to Go” passes that knock $1.50 off the price of each crossing. Five different pass options are available.

The bridge joins the Tacoma Narrows bridge and the “hot lanes” on Highway 167 in the Kent valley as the only tolled roads in the state.

The Highway 520 floating bridge was built in 1963. Tolls on the bridge expect to raise $1 billion to help fund the $4.6 billion cost of a planned new bridge targeted for opening in 2014.

Howard Bird of Sultan writes: A few months ago I wrote you about the dip in eastbound U.S. 2 just east of Monroe. I just wanted to give you an update.

The DOT has made the problem worse. They chip-coated a patch in the dip and it went bad. Before the patch had a chance to set, bumps were formed by passing traffic. Now the dip is still a dip but with a series of bumps.

Bronlea Mishler, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: Howard is correct. Our maintenance crews did a bit of “durapatching” along U.S. 2 this fall, including the area where he noticed the dip.

The “durapatch” material is basically hot asphalt mixed with rocks that our crews use as a longer-term pothole fix – one that will last until the road is permanently repaved at some point in the future. The patched dip looks and feels different now, but is safe for traffic. Crews will keep an eye on the area throughout the winter.

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