Officials considering Seattle's Highway 99 tunnel toll costs

SEATTLE -- State transportation commissioners say they are considering the lowest possible tolls for the Highway 99 tunnel in Seattle so drivers won't be tempted to skip it for busy downtown streets.

One top option would charge four rates that range from $1 on weekends and $1.50 at morning peaks to $2.25 each direction during afternoon rush hour. After the first two years, tolls would increase 3 percent per year from 2021 to 2025.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is taking into account a state convention center expansion, demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and strained transit capacity that will make traffic worse from 2019 to 2021.

The commission decided Wednesday to take three toll scenarios to public hearings this summer, before rates are set.

Tunnel trips will be free for several months after the 1.7-mile passageway that links Sodo to South Lake Union opens this fall.