Problems with 520 tolling plan delay launch

Problems with 520 tolling plan delay launch
BELLEUVE, Wash. -- Problems with the new 520 tolling plan mean you won't be charged to cross the bridge for a few more months.

The Washington Department of Transportation hoped for an April launch, but now it's looking more like May or June.

The system to automatically charge you for crossing the 520 bridge has been a problem for some people trying to get their passes. There are reports of orders lost and long wait times.

"We know it's been frustrating for individuals," said Craig Stone, director of the state's toll division. "We've worked through a lot of those elements; we've made improvements."

Stone says the system was initially overwhelmed and the company in charge of customer service will add staff and simplify the website to handle the volume. He says sign-up numbers are still on track, though.

"We're pleased because we got 42,000 out of 100,000 that we want to have sold, ready to go," Stone said.

Tolls would range from a $1.60 in the early morning to $3.50 each way at peak times. There's a cost for passes as well that ranges from $5 to $12. The $5 pass is sold in all Safeway stores.

There's also been recent word that the toll devices at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge can't read the 520 transponders, so as a temporary fix, cameras there will track license plates, which will then be cross-checked to charge drivers' accounts.

Stone says because of the technical issues with the 520 tolling, it might make the contracted company in charge pay up.

"We're talking about extended testing here to make sure that they're ready to go forward, so with that we say are their costs to the Department of Transportation, to the state that need to be looked at."

There is also the matter of the legislature approving toll rates -- WSDOT is still waiting on that, although they say that's not adding to this current delay.