There is a movement to toll I-90 across Mercer Island to (1) raise additional funds to pay for the 520 bridge and (2) to collect tolls from those who drive across I-90 to avoid the 520 tolls. However, Mercer Island residents and visitors would suffer disproportionately if tolls were placed in the standard way on I-90.
There is a way to toll I-90 that meets both objectives of raising funds tolling those using I-90 to avoid the 520 tolls. This tolling method would not unfairly affect Mercer Islanders, employees, small businesses or visitors. All vehicles crossing the Island on I-90 would pay tolls, but those driving between the Island and either the east or west side of the lake would not. This can be done as follows:
• Tolling devices would be placed at the floating bridge and the East Channel bridge. They would identify vehicles passing on and off the Island at both bridges.
• Vehicles crossing the Island would be identified as they came onto the Island and again as they passed off the Island on the other side. The tolling equipment on both bridges would report to a computer that would determine if a vehicle had crossed the Island within a set time period. If the time between when a vehicle drove onto the Island on one bridge and off the Island on the other bridge was less than, say, 30 minutes, a toll would be levied. Thus, tolls would be levied only on those vehicles going across Mercer Island on I-90.
• Those driving on and off the Island on the same bridge or passing off the Island on the other bridge over 30 minutes later would not be tolled.
If tolls on I-90 are inevitable, I strongly urge consideration of this tolling method. It meets the tolling objectives and is also fair to Mercer Island residents, workers and visitors.