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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Amnesty for toll skippers to end

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

TACOMA – Amnesty for those crossing the new Tacoma Narrows bridge is over.

The State Patrol said its one-week grace period for those crossing the new span without paying the toll would end at 12:01 a.m. today – the day most new state laws take effect.

The state Department of Transportation says between 41,000 and 44,000 vehicles have crossed the new bridge each day since it opened July 16. About 95 percent of them paid the $3 cash or $1.75 electronic-debit toll.

No longer will toll violators be receiving letters in the mail. Video capturing those suspected of not paying will be reviewed by State Patrol cadets, and troopers will begin writing citations. Fines for not paying the toll will be $49 – $40 for the infractions and a $9 assessment that will go toward paying off bridge loans.

The new 5,400-foot span, parallel and south of the old bridge, is the longest suspension bridge built in the United States since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was opened in New York in 1964.

The original Tacoma Narrows bridge, dubbed Galloping Gertie, was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge when it was opened on July 1, 1940. It disintegrated in a windstorm about four months later, “the most dramatic failure in bridge engineering history,” according to the Transportation Department’s Web site.

A 5,979-foot replacement span that was opened on Oct. 14, 1950, is now the nation’s fifth-longest suspension bridge. It was designed to carry 60,000 vehicles a day but now averages more than 90,000, the department said.

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