I recently asked two City Council candidates what other funding sources were available if I-90 were not tolled.
One candidate stated funds could be found by reducing costs. For example, large amounts of money were spent on the EIS for SR-520 as contrasted with the EIS for the I-5 replacement bridge across the Skagit River.
I replied that one could not compare the two situations, since one was the expansion of a freeway through a highly populated urban area and wetland while the other was the replacement of a failed bridge section.
On further thought, I realized this candidate’s supporters had triggered yet another, perhaps wasteful, EIS relating to the I-90 tolling.
Realistically, is it possible to cover the funds raised through tolling by reducing government expenses?
When pressed for sources of funding, the candidate supported an increase in the gas tax.
The recent failure of the legislature to raise the gas tax for the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River does not bode well for I-90. How are Mercer Islanders going to persuade legislators all across the state to raise the gas tax so we can have a special exemption from tolling?
It is easy for candidates to state positions that please the electorate but are unrealistic. Many candidates will tell us what we want to hear while candidates who tell us the truth risk our ire. We then complain that politicians don’t keep their election promises.
My hope for this election is that the more sensible, realistic electorate will prevail.