State to resume collecting late fees for unpaid Narrows Bridge tolls
Penalties will resume on March 1 for Tacoma Narrows Bridge travelers who haven’t paid their toll bills.
A grace period has been in place since July 2021 while a new vendor implements a new Good To Go! system and customers adjust to it. During this time, Washington State Department of Transportation has mailed bills for bridge crossings but hasn’t issued penalties for those that went unpaid.
Normally, vehicle owners who receive a bill in the mail have 30 days before a $5 late fee is charged. After another 50 days, if it still isn’t paid, a $40 civil penalty is added. Once those options are exhausted, the state Department of Licensing will hold the vehicle’s tabs until the debt is satisfied.
Unpaid tolls are subject to $40 civil penalty
Tolls that are now as much as 20 months overdue can be paid before March 1 to avoid penalties. Otherwise, the car owner will receive an invoice with a $5 reprocessing fee. If they fail to respond, they’ll be dinged a $40 civil penalty for each overdue toll.
“That’s where it can really add up,” Good To Go! spokesman Chris Foster said during a phone interview.
People not only are able to avoid penalties, but they can also reduce the toll amount they owe. Most of those with delinquent accounts use the Pay By Mail option in which a camera takes a picture of their license plate and the $6.50 per-trip bill is mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner. They’re being allowed to open a Good To Go! account at no cost and to pay those tolls at the $4.50 transponder rate, plus 25 cents to cover the state’s processing cost.
State offering $1.75 discount
“If you have unpaid tolls, you can pay through the account and save $1.75 (per trip),” Foster said. “We don’t want anybody to have to pay their fees and penalties.”
Those who don’t take advantage of the opportunities to pay off their tolls by March 1 and eventually incur penalties — or who earned them before July 2021 — have one last chance to remove the fines. The state offers a one-time waiver of all fees and penalties. All it takes is a call to customer service and payment of the tolls themselves. Those who have already been given amnesty once can use their one-time waiver a second time.
“We’ve reset the count, wiped the slate clean,” Foster said. “Even drivers who participated in it before. They do have to pay the tolls. That’s the condition. Once the driver pays the original tolls, we will dismiss any late fees or civil penalties.”
Toll rates were decreased 75 cents per trip on Oct. 1. They need to be paid at the rate in affect at the time of the crossing. About 90% of customers pay their tolls on time.
No deposit needed to open account
Customers can now open a Good To Go! account for free because of a new Pay As You Go option. Before, they had to deposit at least $30 into an account from which tolls were automatically deducted. When the balance ran low, they had to reload it. With Pay As You Go, tolls are charged to a credit card twice a month. There is no up front payment. In the service’s first year, 270,000 customers went that route.
“The best message is if you have unpaid tolls we encourage people to act before March 1, 2023,” Foster said. “That’s when the fees and penalties return. We want to help people with all their unpaid tolls without having to worry about fees and penalties.”
On July 2, 2021, the Good To Go! tolling system and customer service center transitioned to ETAN Tolling Technology and Shimmick Construction, respectively, and received major upgrades. Both mygoodtogo.com and the customer service center were offline until July 12 while the WSDOT Toll Division and vendors migrated more than 1 million customer accounts to the new system and set up customer service operations at a new location in Renton.
These policies apply to all of the state’s other tolled roads as well — the 520 floating bridge, Seattle tunnel, and Highway 167 and 405 toll lanes.