City of Mercer Island readies to address tolling

In an email to Islanders who have contacted the city about tolling I-90, Assistant City Manager Noel Treat offered an update on what the City Council plans to do regarding the issue.

Tolling of I-90 is one of the most significant issues to face Mercer Island in many years, he said.

“Tolling will result in significant adverse impacts to residents, employees, the local economy, our school district, city government, religious institutions and all people who have no choice but to use I-90 to get on and off Mercer Island,” he wrote.

Treat explained that the final decision on whether or not the interstate will be tolled lies with elected officials.

However, it looks like tolling may be inevitable.

“The City Council has  been advised by the [Island’s] legislative delegation that the Legislature is very likely to approve tolling. Tolling is said to be necessary to help pay the $1.4 billion unfunded portion of the SR-520 bridge replacement project,” he explained. “While we may have a difficult challenge ahead, the city will seek to vigorously defend the interests of Mercer Island.”

At its Feb. 4 meeting, the City Council reaffirmed its opposition to tolling as previously set out in Resolution No. 1402. The Council also authorized the hiring of expert legal counsel to advise the city during the environmental study process.

Mayor Bruce Bassett appointed an I-90 Steering Committee to oversee the city’s work and provide strategic direction. The committee, together with the city, is developing a work plan to guide the city’s efforts going forward. The plan will include a range of elements including advocacy, coalition building, lobbying, public engagement, review of federal authority to toll, and other action items.

The City Council is scheduled to review a draft of the plan at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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