Letters to the Editor

Letter | WSDOT needs to gather more data

I was one of the hundreds of MI residents who went to the WSDOT presentations on Jan. 29, 2013. I also mailed in my comments to WSDOT (opposing the three toll locations that WSDOT cited in its materials) based upon geographic inequities and income inequities.

As you know, these positions are shared by a vast majority of the residents who attended the presentations. In my letter, I encouraged WSDOT to look at other possible tolling locations if tolling was to occur, e.g., further east where I-90 and I-405 intersect.

In my letter I also encouraged WSDOT to do the following: (i) ask the MI school district for the number and percentage of teachers and MISD employees who don’t live on the Island, (ii) ask the city (or separately, the MI police department and fire department) for the number and percentages of officers, firefighters and city employees who don’t live on the Island, (iii) ask the MI Chamber of Commerce if it has any data that indicates the number and percentage of employees who work for Island-based employers, e.g., Farmers, but who don’t live on the Island, and (iv) ask the MI Chamber of Commerce if it has any data that indicates the percentage of customers who regularly patronize Island-based businesses, e.g., Albertsons, QFC (north), etc., who do not live on the Island.

This type of information and data will help quantify the income inequity created by the I-90 tolling locations under review by WSDOT because of the economic hardship suffered by these employees. They will be required to pay a toll to go to work and thereby take a “cut” to their income. This type of information and data will also help understand and quantify the adverse impact such tolling could have on Island-based businesses with a decrease in patronage by off-Island individuals.

Assuming WSDOT does not try to gather the data and information that I have suggested (and any other relevant data and information), it might be worthwhile to try to gather such data and information so that it can be made public and presented to WSDOT for review as part of its Environmental Assessment.

Benson Wong


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