If you have an opinion on I-90 tolling, now’s your chance to let the government know what you think.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are taking public comments between Oct. 7 and Nov. 6 on a controversial proposal: tolling I-90 between I-5 and I-405 to help pay for the new 520 Bridge.
Fifth District State Reps. Jay Rodne and Chad Magendanz urge concerned citizens to offer their comments at a series of public meetings:
• Mercer Island: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21, at Mercer Island High School
• Seattle: 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Northwest African American Museum
Except for the Bellevue meeting which requires early sign-ups, people can sign up to speak on a first-come, first-served basis at the start of each meeting. Citizens unable to attend the meetings in person can also submit comments via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and through this website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I90/CrossLakeWATolling/ScopingInformation.htm.
“We recently hosted an informational transportation meeting in Issaquah and it is clear residents are concerned about the condition of our roadways, traffic congestion and ensuring tax dollars are spent wisely and in ways that move people and goods around the state more efficiently,” said Rodne, R-Snoqualmie and member of the House Transportation Committee. “As the state moves forward on mega-projects like the 520 Bridge and the Seattle tunnel, I hope constituents will weigh in on what they think are stable ways to fund the projects and any reforms they think are needed before asking citizens for more from their pockets.”
The WSDOT and FHWA received thousands of public comments earlier this year during their first “scoping period.” From those, the agencies have compiled a list of possible alternatives that could better manage congestion on the Cross-Lake Washington Corridor and generate additional tax collections for road projects in the region. The alternatives include: tolling, state or regional taxes, mileage fees, federal funding and new highway capacity.
“Everyone in the Fifth District should take advantage of this opportunity to make their voice heard,” said Magendanz, R-Issaquah. “This is a really big issue for all of us. There’s the impact to our district to consider as well as the precedent of tolling interstate highways to pay for other state projects.”
In 2012, the Legislature directed WSDOT to study tolling I-90 between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue as a way to relieve Cross-Lake Washington Corridor congestion and help fund the remaining portion of the State Route 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program. In June 2013, the Legislature passed legislation requiring an Environmental Impact Statement for the project.