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Letter | I-90 tolling may help ease Mercer Island traffic
Tolling will probably come to I-90 as an attempt to even out the traffic between SR-520 and I-90. Even if today’s increased I-90 traffic is bearable, after Sound Transit takes the I-90 express lanes from us, increased floating bridge traffic will once again be the major irritation of Island life it was before the present bridge was built. The only method we have to alleviate the traffic will be tolling I-90. So instead of complaining about tolling, Islanders should be proactive and focus on how the tolling could be used to improve Island life. The I-90 location at which the toll might be charged will have a big impact on whether we are able to use our MI Park and Ride lot. Right now the lot is full by 7:30 a.m., before the bulk of the Island commuters hit the road. The lot is mostly used by Eastside commuters who prefer it to the poorly utilized Eastside Park and Rides. How I-90 is tolled could correct this situation or make it worse.
If the toll is collected on the East Channel Bridge, then these drivers will be more likely to use Eastside Park and Rides in order to avoid the toll. This would allow more Islanders to use the MI Park and Ride and to avoid paying the toll by taking the bus. On the other hand, if the toll is collected on the floating bridge side of the Island, then the opposite will be true. The MI Park and Ride will fill up with Eastside drivers at an even earlier hour and fewer Islanders will be able to take the bus (to Bellevue or Seattle).
The Island keeps having “stuff” happen to our main transportation corridor without much influence being exerted by Islanders or the City Council. By the end of February we will have a newer City Council than we have had in many years. Let’s hope that this new blood will start imposing our will on the environment instead of the other way around.
W. Clark Powell