Add your $0.02 on I-90 tolling

You have to pay for it somehow. With tolling already implemented on 520, WSDOT has started the public process to also add tolling on I-90. Details on a public open house in the Central District tonight, below. It’s a plan to cover a $1.4 billion deficit in the construction budget for the 520 replacement project. And boy is Mercer Island pissed:

Cold reality is setting in for drivers of Interstate 90, who three years from now might have to pay $1,900 a year to cross Lake Washington.

I-90 tolls would help the state close a deficit of $1.4 billion to complete the new $4.1 billion, six-lane Highway 520 floating bridge, three miles north — a bridge Mercer Island residents say they rarely use.

Publicola, by the way, provides this interesting factoid about Mercer Island’s previous I-90 push-back:

…Mercer Island residents made a similar case about HOV lanes on I-90 in 1976, arguing that they should get unfettered access to carpool lanes in exchange for accepting I-90 in their community. To this day, nearly four decades later, Islanders are the only people in the state allowed to drive in HOV lanes alone.

Thursday night, you can learn more about the plan and provide feedback to the state at a public open house to discuss the proposed tolling. You can also add your $0.02 online — links below.

WSDOT is preparing an environmental assessment that will evaluate the effects of tolling Interstate 90 between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue. Tolls are being considered to generate revenue to help fund replacement of the SR 520. I-90 tolling will also help alleviate congestion on I-90 giving travelers a safer, more reliable trip.

Commuters and communities are encouraged to get involved with the study process by learning about the project and submitting comments. 

How to comment

Angela Angove 
999 Third Avenue Suite 2200 
Seattle, WA 98104

The public scoping comment period is from January 22 to February 22, 2013. WSDOT has created a Community Guide (pdf 1 mb) to provide an overview of the project and guidance to the public on how to best provide meaningful and timely input to the I-90 Tolling Environmental Assessment.


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14 thoughts on “Add your $0.02 on I-90 tolling

  1. I think it was ridiculous that they did not put a tax on the bridge right away when they started doing 520 as a means of controlling traffic flow. Voters in this state are totally irresponsible when it comes to setting up a decent and fair tax structure themselves, so it comes down to these more extreme measures. Oh well. If you like to use a bridge you probably should pay for it.

  2. I don’t think anyone “likes” to use the bridge but 520 and I90 are the only connection between Seattle and decent paying jobs on the Eastside. Look, I can’t stand the Eastside as much as any other Cap Hiller – but the city needs to stop their constant punishment of hard working people, commuters and drivers. We cannot solve the infrastructure problems by putting it all on the backs of people who have cars; higher parking rates, longer parking hours, tolls, no reliable public transportation and no affordable Smart Park types of parking garages – the city leaves no alternative solutions. If there was a decent public transportation option available there would be no argument from my side but Seattle is notorious for continuously making things more and more difficult for people trying to make and honest living while appeasing to people who just want to live off the system.

  3. I’m mildly opposed actually, since some people will just go back to 520, and lengthen my commute slightly. But tolling both bridges seems like the right move I guess.

  4. Well said. This is going to hurt buinesses on both sides of the lake… and our econnomy in general. It’s a $5-$14 tax on every concert, dinner, show, event, or purchase that eastsiders make in Seattle.

    Why pay so much to drive over to CapHill to buy something @ the Metro when it’ll be so much cheaper online :(

  5. Tolls are regressive, use taxes that disproportionately impact low income commuters. It becomes another opportunity to fall behind economically; $2k a year is pretty hard to pay on an average annual salary ($68k) much less a low one ($31k). So I would prefer we not toll and, instead, tax the state population to pay for infrastructure improvements.

    But Tim Eyman or, rather, those that voted for his me-first-public-be-damned initiatives have effectively bottled up financing options. Sure, sure, complain about government inefficiency; there’s truth to that. But we all drive the roads, some more than others. It’s just a basic tenet of civilization that you socialize major infrastructure expenses. But Tim Eyman changed that math and we, as voters, have nobody to blame but ourselves.

  6. I’m generally okay with it, as long as I can pay in cash and cross without having my travel tracked. I’ve used the 520 bridge just once since the license plate scanning started, because of an urgent work task.

  7. Pulling money from commuters, because that is the target, is both unfair and unjust. Local commerce and people moving will suffer. I would be pissed if I were leaving, running a business or simply having friends in Mercer Island and I would have to pay just to visit.
    Tool will never go away, then why not tooling people on I90 in Issaquah? Of putting a tool at the border of I5 with Canada? Or on I405 in Bellevue? Only because I90 is one of the most busiest and most profitable route? That’s wrong.

  8. for convenience sake I have the transponder and pay daily as I go to and from work. Only the paranoid would be worried about “Big Brother” tracking our travel.

    What chaps my nads is the fact that this whole electronic tolling is run by an OUT OF STATE company that is a FOR PROFIT company. If tolls were collected in cash on site, they would be collected by State employees with 100% of the intake from those tolls staying in the state. Isn’t that better for Washington than sending money to some outfit in another state?

  9. Right, and only people who have something to hide put their letters in envelopes and close the blinds in their homes. My life is boring, and there’s probably nobody interested in where I travel. Regardless, I do not want my government making a record of everywhere I go once I step foot outside of my home. See “WSDOT answer questions about privacy and records of SR 520 bridge crossings” for the results of some research I did a couple years ago.

    On the topic of billing, see my friend’s report, “WSDOT misplaces tolling money, issues fines and ignores written requests”.

  10. Paying for tolls in cash is the way of yesteryear. It would require building some expensive toll stations and staffing them with well-paid WSDOT employees 24/7……and would probably contribute greatly to traffic congestion on the bridges. Not the way to go. The automatic payment system now in place is far superior, even with its few shortcomings.

  11. Just a little reminder, Dave….there is a light rail route across I90 to Redmond in the serious planning stages. Completion is some years away, but when that happens you will be easily able to commute from Capitol Hill to your job on the Eastside, and your argument will become moot.

  12. Being a toll collector HAS to be the worst job in the world; to know your work can be easily replaced by a machine (let alone a sensor and the internet). Do we really want to pay people to do pointless work? I don’t carry cash any more, let along change!