Mercer Island Reporter


Letter | Toll comparison not valid in ‘car-centric’ community

March 26, 2013 · 12:45 PM

The Reporter’s recent update (March 6) on I-90 tolling could benefit from better math. The front page headline declares, “Plan to fight tolls will cost big bucks,” and the story cites the city’s $150,000 (if not more) in anticipated legal fees.

In a separate story, the Reporter notes the rough equivalence between WSDOT’s proposed tolls for I-90 and what, after adjusting for inflation, people paid a half-century ago to cross Lake Washington bridges.

Perhaps the Reporter’s implicit message is that the toll levels being discussed by WSDOT today actually aren’t too bad by historical standards?

The Reporter has it exactly backwards. Spread across the Island’s 10,000 households, the anticipated $150,000 for a legal defense fund is cheap. Fifteen dollars per household is downright trivial — especially given the end goal of preventing the imposition on Islanders of potentially $100s of millions in new taxes over the long-term, worst case scenario. And what is the worst case scenario?

Yes, it might be toll rates akin to ones from yesteryear, but those toll rates would be applied to a significantly more car-centric community than has ever existed.

A friend of mine is now worried about a $5,000 annual increase in his commuting bill because he has three cars, teenagers and a highly mobile family. I’m sure he’d be happy to see the city spend even several hundred dollars per household on his behalf, and on behalf of all Mercer Island families, if that means not being compelled to pay thousands of dollars a year — year over year — to subsidize completion of the 520 bridge, which he will rarely use.

Marc Berejka


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