If the objective is to prevent a “free pass” for drivers commuting to and from Seattle, you toll the west side of Mercer Island.
If the objective is to prevent a “free pass” for drivers commuting to and from Mercer Island and the Eastside, you toll the east side of Mercer Island. This option is “unfair” because no other community is tolled accessing I-90 and I-405.
If the objective is to prevent a “free pass” for everyone driving on or off Mercer Island, you toll both sides of Mercer Island. This option will transform Mercer Island into an island similar to Vashon or any other island requiring ferry service. If this option is selected, it would have severe economic impacts upon Mercer Island and, to be “fair,” the state should encircle Medina, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Bellevue, Newport and Kirkland with tolls for the privilege of their drivers accessing I-405, I-90 and SR-520.
Unfortunately, what is lost and not considered in the tolling arguments are the impacts upon those people who are on tight budgets, and live or work on Mercer Island, or are required to traverse across Mercer Island. And, what is lost in the equation are the adverse financial consequences that tolling will cause businesses, governments and property owners on Mercer Island. What we need are long-term solutions where the costs are spread out over a wider base. The tolling of I-90 is not a long-term solution.
We should form a countywide or tri-county funding entity that subsidizes the construction of large transportation projects through existing, new and creative funding sources. By spreading the costs over a wider base, the impacts upon those people who can least afford to pay will be less severe. To me this approach is more “equitable” and “fair,” and promotes a long-term solution to our transportation needs.
Al Huhs, Former Councilmember & Vice Mayor
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.