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Washington State Department of Transportation

Tolling in the SR 99 Tunnel Under Downtown Seattle

Award Category: 
Customer Service & Marketing Outreach
Award Year: 
2020

Washington State Department of Transportation

Award Category: 
Customer Service & Marketing Outreach
Award Year: 
2020

On November 9, 2019, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) began tolling the SR 99 tunnel. WSDOT began tolling to repay $200 million in construction bonds borrowed to build the tunnel, and to fund the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining a safe facility. This funding is part of the $3.3 billion investment to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct and rebuild SR 99 through Seattle.  

The SR 99 tunnel, which opened in Feb. 4, 2019, was constructed to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct built on Seattle's waterfront. WSDOT decided to open the tunnel toll-free for several months during demolition of the existing viaduct to keep traffic and freight moving through Seattle. This also allowed for time to test the roadway toll equipment.  With several other major transportation projects occurring in Seattle at the same time, tolling had the capability to significantly affect how drivers get through the city. To minimize diversion from tolls and ensure drivers understood how tolling works, WSDOT developed and executed a plan to maximize outreach efforts, identify opportunities and risks, and facilitate coordination with project partners. You can learn more about the SR 99 Tunnel here.  WSDOT produced a 6½-minute YouTube video, complete with close-up action sequences and before-and-after photos on the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.