An electrical short on the Highway 520 floating bridge let drivers cross for free Tuesday morning.
Drivers are again paying to cross Highway 520 floating bridge, after contractors fixed an electrical flaw in the tolling system, though the signs showing the tolling rate still are not working.
Tolls resumed around 11 a.m., said a state Department of Transportation update at 1:16 p.m. An electrical short in a power box, on land next to the east highrise, was the source of the problem, said DOT spokeswoman Patricia Michaud
An alarm triggered at 12:30 a.m., and crews from the toll contractor were working all night to fix it, until deciding a few hours later to take the system down, said.
Drivers were tolled from 5 a.m. to roughly 6:30 a.m., DOT says. This is the second glitch affecting the toll devices, which are attached to the overhead trusswork near the east shore. On Jan. 2, the signs that display toll amounts went blank, but DOT says tolls were collected anyway. Tolls vary by time of day from zero overnight to $3.50 at peak times.
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The equipment at the bridge is operated by Telvent, a tolling contractor. The software and billing are done by Texas-based Electronic Transaction Consultants under a five-year, $23 million contract that includes toll-counting and billing systems for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Highway 167 high-occupancy or toll (HOT) lanes.
Michaud said the DOT is still checking into what caused the problem, and who will be responsible for the lost toll revenue. Technical difficulties caused tolling to begin about eight months late, on Dec. 28, and tolling director Craig Stone has said gross income is expected to be about $1 million per weekday. Officials don’t have traffic counts yet for Tuesday morning but snow kept some would-be drivers at home.
Tolls are supposed to support at least $1 billion in construction bonds to help finance a new $4.65 billion, six lane crossing from I-5 in Seattle to I-405 in Bellevue, but the whole project is still about $2 billion short. Pontoons are now being built at Grays Harbor, and lids being built over the highway near the east shore of Lake Washington. Lawmakers haven’t decided yet when or whether to extend tolls to the I-90 floating bridge nearby.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @mikelindblom.