The state Department of Transportation announced plans this week to place toll booths on Deception Pass Bridge to help pay for a seismic retrofit of the aging structure.
The bridge will also be painted its original shade of puce as part of the project, WSDOT announced.
The amount of the toll hasn’t been set, but state officials say it will likely be $5 in quarters.
Oak Harbor community leaders expressed shock at the plans, which they say will put a big wet blanket on tourism and cause traffic backups to extend miles on both sides of the bridge.
“Anyone without spare change will be trapped on the island,” the county’s public works director said. “And they should have discounts for Canadians and people in orange cars.”
Not everyone is upset.
An entrepreneurial kindergartner plans to open a lemonade stand near the bridge for thirsty motorists caught in stalled traffic.
And a self-described “grumpy old man” said he hopes the toll will keep ragamuffins and vagabonds off the island; he also wants the state to jack up the cost of ferry tickets to keep swashbucklers at bay.
The need for the retrofit came to light after two middle-school children were climbing under the bridge on a dare. They noticed large cracks throughout the structure and also realized that the bridge was leaning to one side.
Around the same time, historians discovered the bridge wasn’t originally black and white, as old photos suggest. They tracked down an elderly resident who remembered that it used to be a purplish-brown color, possibly with yellow polka dots.
The state is also looking at building a floating bridge or possibly a tunnel from Coupeville to Camano Island, but funding for the project is currently stalled in the senate committee on pipe dreams.