Drivers who travel Washington’s five toll highways are warned to pay extra attention to their bills and accounts in June and July, as the state approaches a software changeover.
Between June 18 and July 5, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will change toll-processing companies, in hopes a new system will be easier for online customers to use. The mygoodtogo.com website will be offline two weeks.
“If you use toll roads often, please make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover any trips you take while the system is down for approximately two weeks,” says a Good to Go message to 2 million customers.
Tolls will still be charged during the period, but bills won’t be posted to drivers’ accounts until after July 5 — so a driver might get caught suddenly owing a high balance. WSDOT also encourages people to resolve unpaid tolls before June 18.
The two-week transition time won’t be counted against drivers for purposes of charging the $5 reprocessing fee for payments 15 days late, or the $40 civil penalty for payments 80 days late, WSDOT says. The state does offer a one-time penalty forgiveness for those who request it from the state.
“Customers will have at least two extra weeks to pay once we reopen, before the clock begins again,” toll spokesperson Emily Glad said. However, those who catch up on bills now can avoid hassles later, in the expected rush of activity in July, WSDOT says.
For more information, check the GoodtoGo website or call 1-866-936-8246.
The new vendor, ETAN, was supposed to be ready a couple years ago, but the project ran late because of glitches in design and testing. About $9 million of the $12.8 million delay cost will be paid by the vendor, Glad said.
Once the bugs are worked out, the new system is supposed to be easier to use. Most conspicuously, drivers will no longer need to prepay $30 to establish a Good to Go account.
Also, customers will be able to receive text alerts if toll accounts run out of money. They’ll be able to pay tolls online even when their balance is negative, a function blocked by the old website.
As for toll prices, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge’s basic rate of $5 for passholders, charged eastbound only, is expected to rise by 25 cents on Oct. 1 — the first boost since 2015. Rates would go higher, except state legislators have held down the tolls by using subsidies from other transportation funds, including federal COVID-19 economic-relief money. Highway 99 tunnel and Highway 520 bridge tolls will increase in the future.
Toll-lane travel is still down 28% compared to pre-pandemic volumes, and by half in the Highway 99 tunnel, but only 5% below normal on the Narrows bridge. Toll income is down, with Highway 520 doing worst, with a $52.7 million shortfall as of March 2021.