Tolls for Rail. Trust?.

From the CRC DEIS, 4-20   CHAPTER 4

Toll Credits

Under Federal law, a project is permitted to use certain toll revenue expenditures as a credit toward the local matching share of federally eligible highway and transit projects. This concept is frequently referred

to as toll credits.

Toll credits are earned when a state or toll authority funds an eligible capital investment with toll revenues from an existing facility. Project sponsors may use toll credits as local match on a Federal project. By using a sufficient amount of toll credits, the federal funding for a project can be increased to 100 percent. [bold added]

Fares paid by ferry riders, in places where ferry routes are considered part of the highway systems (such as the Washington State Ferry System), can earn toll credits in the same manner as a tolled highway. WSDOT has earned toll credits through this mechanism, and may provide an allocation of toll credits to the CRC project.

In this assessment, up to $750 million in New Starts funds are assumed to be available to the high-capacity transit project. With toll credits, alternatives costing $750 million or less can be funded with New Starts funds, provided a sufficient amount of toll credits are applied to meet the local match requirement. Project alternatives costing more than $750 million must incorporate sufficient local cash match to cover the difference between the project cost and the assumed $750 million New Starts grant. There can be alternatives in which a portion of the local match requirement is met by toll credits and a portion met with local funds or in-kind match.

Some issues arise with the use of toll credits. First, the project staff must work with FTA to ensure that the use of toll credits does not negatively affect FTA’s New Starts rating of the project. Second, as part of any Full Funding Grant Agreement, FTA will establish a maximum amount of New Starts funds available to the project, and will obligate the project sponsors to cover any cost overruns with non-New Starts funds. During the rating of the financial plan, FTA will complete a financial capacity review to determine the ability of the project sponsors to meet this obligation. Thus, even when they can be used, toll credits do not entirely eliminate the need for local capital funding capacity. Lastly, in order to use toll credits, WSDOT must provide a letter committing the necessary amount of toll credits to the CRC project.

How Does Light Rail Affect Bridge Tolls?

We believe that a low cost bridge project (like the I-205 bridge - which did not require tolls)  was expanded into a mega-project in order to require tolls so that tolls could be used as a credit to get the Federal Government to pay for ALL of the cost of light rail construction (instead of the normal 50%). This use of tolls is described in an official document for this project - the CRC DEIS as follows:

The above is from the Environmental Impact Statement which gives many details of the project. This document can be downloaded from the Columbia River Crossing’s official web site in chapters or as one 95 meg zip file from