Toll Discontinued On Astoria Bridge

ASTORIA, Ore. - Travelers will no longer have to pay a toll to cross the Astoria bridge, which spans the mouth of the Columbia River and links Oregon and Washington, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced yesterday.

"After 28 years of patiently paying tolls, I'm certain travelers will be as pleased as I am with the free passage over this key link with our Pacific Northwest neighbors," said State Sen. Joan Dukes, D-Astoria, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

The bridge was built in 1966. Since then, enough tolls have been paid to pay off $24 million in construction bonds, state officials said.

More than 1.5 million vehicles use the bridge each year. They have paid tolls that range from 50 cents for a motorcycle to $4 for a tractor-trailer.

Toll collection was to stop at noon today, but the bridge will not be permanently toll-free until officials make sure there is enough money to pay for removal of toll booths and other changeover