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Tolls for Snoqualmie Pass a high priority

Snoqualmie Pass is at the top of the list to impose new tolls on motorists in a policy briefing to the state Transportation Commission. The commission is a seven-member independent citizen body tasked with advising the state on transportation-related issues.

The commission, state Department of Transportation and a consulting team of local and national experts are conducted a $1 million comprehensive tolling study. The final report is scheduled to be delivered in July 2006. Citizens still have some time to have a say in whether or how tolling should be adopted.

Comments must be received by June 30. Information is available online at www.WATollingStudy.com. Open houses have been held around the state. The remaining open house will be held June 28 in Spokane.

The draft proposal says the state should use tolling to encourage effective use of the transportation system and provide additional transportation funding.

Snoqualmie Pass, along with the Columbia River crossing at Vancouver and Highway 520, are slated for the first round of phased tolling implementation because of the high cost associated with needed repairs and upgrades.

Other suggestions include converting high occupancy vehicle lanes to tolled express lanes and setting toll prices to make the most effective use of the system. The first changes toward a state highway tolling system are suggested to take place within 10 years.

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