According to a new SurveyUSA poll, a strong majority of King County residents say they will change their behavior to avoid tolls that would range between nothing (late at night) to $3.50 (at rush hour) on the new SR-520 bridge---including 13 percent of residents who say they'd actually be willing to move if it meant not paying to cross the bridge between Seattle and Bellevue.

Although the vast majority, 87 percent, said they use the 520 bridge once a week or less (and only 6 percent said they use the bridge more than three times a week), that didn't stop drivers from saying they'd go out of their way to avoid the bridge once it's tolled. Fully 54 percent said they'd avoid the bridge altogether, while another 25 percent said they'd reduce their use of the bridge. (Just 19 percent said tolls would have no effect on their driving behavior). Three-quarters said they'd be no more likely to use public transit once the bridge is tolled, and a similar percentage (74 percent) said they'd be no more likely to consider carpooling instead of driving alone.

Perhaps most surprisingly, 13 percent said they'd consider moving away from their current homes to avoid paying tolls---pretty astonishing when you consider that that's the same percentage of survey who reported driving across the bridge twice a week or more. Sixteen percent said they'd consider changing jobs to avoid the tolls, and 75 percent said they'd consider an alternate route to avoid 520, similar to the results of an earlier poll. (Of those, 71 percent picked I-90 as their preferred alternative). Most (70 percent) said they opposed implementing a parallel toll on I-90. However, most people weren't willing to deal with the time impact choosing an alternative route would actually impose: The vast majority (88 percent) said 15 minutes was too long to drive to avoid the tolls.

Of course, poll results are no indicator of actual future behavior: Studies, including traffic projections for 520, have shown that as alternative, non-tolled routes get clogged with traffic, people switch back to tolled routes because they're faster and more convenient.

Full poll results here.
Show Comments