Letters to the Editor

Letter | Reporter favors tolling, the issue is a ‘Pandora’s box’ for residents

As a subscriber, I urge you to investigate and report on the full I-90 toll issue. In my opinion, your recent front page article merely reports facts supporting the City Council’s laissez faire attitude.

Further, your editorial column is little more than reiteration of the state DOT and Legislature’s belief that tolls are fait accompli.

The issue going forward is more than the disproportionate and onerous “tax” on Mercer Island residents. Two neighbors who recently spoke before the City Council estimated their family tolls will be $5,000 to $6,000 annually for daily commute, shopping, trips to the doctor, sports and activities, and trips into Seattle for sports events, museums or enjoying performing arts.

It is more than a pesky nuisance to Bellevue and Issaquah residents. Tolls will impact our public and private school teachers and staff; city employees, our struggling small-business community, day care and home care workers, services like landscaping, cleaning; everything from Fed Ex to the groceries delivered to the major stores.

Thousands of Eastside residents enjoy participating in churches in other communities, and they come here, too. Weekends will soon see hundreds of cars on the bridges paying an $8 “tax” to go to church? Certainly raises an eyebrow.

WSDOT claims the Feds have no problem with tolls. Worse, this study has been in work for three years. City and state elected officials consider this a done deal. It is not.

WSDOT has made little or no outreach beyond Mercer Island, Bellevue and Issaquah. The federal interstate highway system is also critical infrastructure for commerce — goods, products or food-related shipments in and out of the Seattle area, across the state and beyond.

This is a Pandora’s box. In time, other tolls will appear on highway systems to pay for local projects. The Legislature is already exploring tolls in I-405. Who is next … a toll booth in Ellensburg? Another in Spokane? Or Coeur d’Alene? Portland? The potential is endless.

WHAT TO DO. The Environmental Impact Study is beginning. The public comment phase ends in February.

Some are now questioning whether the SR-520’s budget is accurate — is the shortfall a myth? The Seattle Times reported last week on $38 million in the 520 budget will remove ramps and spruce up the Arboretum. This does not benefit regional transportation, much less commerce. What else is buried in this budget?

The Reporter endorsed the school bond, and voters handed MISD its head. Had the fire bond opponents started two weeks earlier, it would have failed, too, despite the Reporter endorsement.

Your articles appear to favor tolling. Frankly, I question whether you’re doing your readers a service. I urge you to rekindle the passion to  investigate and report. That’s the Reporter’s job, and yours.

Please, address the whole story, and invite subscribers to contact state senators and representatives in Olympia, plus our U.S. senators and congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

Larry McWilliams

Editor’s note: To comment electronically on the tolling issue, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/I90/OnlineScoping to learn more about the process and how to send in your comments. Comments can simply be mailed to: Angela Angove, 999 Third Avenue, Suite 2200, Seattle, WA 98104.



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