Letter | Tolls will only hurt a new local retail business
February 25, 2013 · 11:42 AM
I’m writing to lodge my sincere protest to tolling the I-90 corridor across Mercer Island.
I recently opened a retail store on Mercer Island (four weeks ago), and in building our projections and business plan, I accounted for some, not much, but some traffic coming from off Island, particularly from the Eastside. If a toll is present, any of that business will not happen. Imagine if you had to pay a cover charge to enter Bellevue Square Mall? Your buying habits would certainly change.
If I-90 is tolled, we will be economically isolated from even the communities a mile from our shores. I find this unacceptable and had I known this prior to signing a lease on my retail space, I would have reconsidered my business ambitions on Mercer Island.
I am also concerned about what the money is going to pay for, and the state of the current stretch of freeway where the money is supposed to go.
As illustrated at a meeting of the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, the money is allocated to build out from four lanes to six lanes on the stretch of freeway from I-5 to essentially the Montlake exit. This stretch of freeway is currently not tolled, meaning the neighborhoods benefiting from the I-90 tolls (University of Washington and Montlake) are not even contributing to this portion of the project. Which means those communities will be unfairly over served, while the benefits to communities that pay for it are grossly under served. This, by definition, is a boondoggle, albeit on a state instead of federal level, but a boondoggle nonetheless.
I urge you to consider these points when making your decision.