FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 7, 2021
Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) announced she will be sponsoring legislation to remove all tolls from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in under two years. The bill would transfer $772 million from the state’s general fund to pay off remaining debts on the bridge.
“This proposal is bold but the demand is simple: our community here on the peninsula should get the infrastructure investments we need and deserve,” Randall said. “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.
“At a time when we have such a strong budget outlook and unspent federal money for COVID recovery, the legislature should seize the opportunity to eliminate the tolls and pay off the remaining debt.”
Currently, the bridge’s initial $729 million construction costs become $1.48 billion that is projected to be satisfied on June 30, 2030. Randall’s bill would pay off the debt nearly a decade ahead of schedule by using operating budget funds – $672 million for outstanding principal and interest, $57 million for deferred sales tax on the bridge’s construction and $43 million loaned by the state to freeze toll rates.
“My community – our friends and family here on the peninsula, our neighbors in Tacoma – have carried nearly all of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge debt since it opened in 2007. I’ve heard time and again that these tolls are a barrier as folks travel to school and to work, visit loved ones on the other side of the Sound, and come down to Olympia to testify.
“The solution isn’t cheap, but it’s necessary, and I’m ready to work with my colleagues and on behalf of our community to make it possible.”
SB 5488 was pre-filed alongside companion House Bill 1602, sponsored by Rep. Dan Bronoske. The full text of pre-filed bills will be available here in the coming days. The 60-day legislative session begins on Jan. 10, 2022.