Today's quandry: A latte or an easy commute?

520 bridge tolling
Taking the high (priced) road

If you're an east-west driver, you've already grappled with this one: Is it worth the price of two lattes to breeze across the lake? With peak tolls running $3.50 each way ($5 if you don't have a "Good to Go" pass; $200 a month, people!), that 520 bridge is now a serious budget item for some folks. And it shows; people are diverting by the hundreds to cross the I90 bridge instead, and who can blame 'em?

I can, and I do in rather salty terms every time I cross 90 going to and from work this week. No, it's not a disaster—see WSDOT's chirpy press release yesterday, assuring us all that I90 commutes only increased a teeny bit—you know, just taking 20 minutes to get across the 2-mile mainline span at peak. It's just doubling my commute, and I hope it stops soon—something else the WSDOT assures us is likely, as drivers decide that the drive-around and traffic snarl isn't worth the money.

But many drivers won't go back until tolling on their brand-new, $4.65 billion, 6-lane floating bridge is finished, and then go back, they will, having effectively dodged the spirit of the whole tolling project in the first place, which is "pay for what you use," which is the future of transportation in our state, according to many transportation thinkers. Something I've been thinking about a lot lately, as we polish up an upcoming story on the subject.

By the way, if you're a 520 refugee, know this: Volumes on that bridge have suddenly dropped by 35 percent, and you can now make that crossing 5 minutes faster! Go back and check it out!