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I-90 tolling discussion to begin Monday, Jan. 7 at City Council meeting

The Mercer Island City Council will begin discussion of tolling on Interstate 90 during their first regular meeting of 2013 on Monday, Jan. 7.

Representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation, along with State Representatives Judy Clibborn, Marcie Maxwell and State Senator Steve Litzow will be on hand to share and discuss tolling on Interstate 90.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will host three public meetings at the end of January about the possibility of tolling Interstate 90 across Mercer Island. The effects of tolling Interstate 90 over the Island, between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue, will be evaluated as part of the environmental assessment being done by WSDOT.

Tolls are being considered to generate revenue to help fund replacement of the SR-520 floating bridge. I-90 tolling is projected to help alleviate congestion on I-90.

"Tolling on I-90 between I-5 and I-405 is needed to generate revenue to help complete the SR 520 program and to help alleviate congestion on I-90," said the WSDOT. "Scoping is an opportunity to gather feedback that will shape the tolling study."

The three meetings are part of the public input process, which is open from Jan. 22 through Feb. 22.

The environmental assessment is required by the National Environmental Protection Act to understand any influences, both positive and negative, about the project. Public input will allow residents to take part in the process and to learn more about the study.

The study will ask why tolling is being considered, how to implement it and how tolling would affect those who use the bridge and the surrounding communities, as well as look at the possible environment effects on land use, economics, energy and climate change.

When the bridge between Mercer Island and Seattle, known as the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, opened in 1940 tolls were required to cross, a practice which stayed in place until 1949. While there have not been tolls on the bridge for many years, since 1999, when the state Legislature began looking at replacing the State Route 520 bridge, tolls on I-90 have been discussed to help with traffic.

In 2009 the SR 520 Legislative Workgroup, which reviewed and recommended the financing strategy to fund the 520 design, discussed tolling on I-90. The group recommended creating and early tolling of the HOT lanes on I-90 as soon as was practicable, a project which has since been funded by Sound Transit and completed across portions of I-90 on Mercer Island. The group also recommended that if the remaining gap in funding couldn't be filled in with new federal or state revenue that general tolling on I-90 should start no sooner than 2014.

Public meetings

Jan. 29: 4-7 p.m., Mercer Island Community and Event Center, 8236 S.E. 24th Street

Jan. 30: 4-7 p.m., Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E., Bellevue 98004

Jan. 31: 4-7 p.m., Yesler Community Center, 917 East Yesler Way, Seattle 98122

Craig Stone, WSDOT Toll Division assistant secretary, will present information on I-90 tolling and traffic data during the Mercer Island City Council's regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2013, at City Hall.

Comments can also be sent to I90EAcomments@wsdot.wa.gov, and by mail to Angela Angove I-90 Tolling Project, 999 Third Ave. Suite 2200, Seattle, Wa 98104.

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