I-90 tolling proposal: Your feedback helps shape alternatives and tolling options

By guest blogger Emily Pace

I-90 Floating Bridge
As you may recall, earlier this year we conducted outreach on the proposal to toll I-90 between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue, including public meetings in Bellevue, Mercer Island and in Seattle, and a public comment period. We had a great turnout at the meetings, and in the end, received thousands of comments from the public and state and local agencies.

It’s important to remember why the Legislature asked us to study tolling I-90. The Cross-Lake Washington corridor – made up of the I-90 and SR 520 bridges – provides as a vital connection between our region’s major employment and population centers. We’re facing two key challenges with this corridor: funding the SR 520 - I-5 to Medina Bridge Replacement Project to complete the SR 520 Program and relieving congestion on I-90.  To address these challenges, the Legislature asked us to evaluate tolling I-90 and complete an environmental impact statement to examine other possible project alternatives.

Craig Stone, Assistant Secretary for the WSDOT Toll Division,
and Tolled Corridors Director John White discuss the I-90
EIS with members of the public attending the Bellevue
scoping meeting held October 10th.
How did we use the feedback we received from outreach earlier this year?
Many people suggested potential alternatives to tolling I-90 that may help meet the purpose of the project, which is to alleviate congestion on I-90 and fund SR 520 between I-5 and Medina. We used the suggestions to develop a list of potential solutions that fit into categories such as state or regional taxes, mileage fees, federal funding and adding new highway capacity. 

Many suggestions came from folks who live or work on Mercer Island.  When we discuss tolling I-90, we realize Mercer Island is in a very unique situation—fully reliant on I-90 to leave the Island in either direction.  As we continue with the environmental process and evaluate the variable tolling alternative, we’re only considering potential tolling options (pdf 404 kb) that would offer Mercer Island a free or discounted way off the island.

More input needed Oct. 6 through Nov. 7 on proposal and alternatives
We’re having another 30-day comment period and we need your feedback again – this time on the potential alternatives and proposal to toll I-90. You can provide your comments online, by mail or in person at a public meeting in Bellevue, Mercer Island and Seattle. Last time, many folks wanted a chance to give verbal comment at the public meetings, so this time around we’re offering the chance to speak at each meeting.

What are the next steps?
Ultimately, the Legislature decides whether or not to toll I-90. After the comment period ends on Nov. 6, we will compile all the comments and summarize key themes into a summary report. Your feedback will help determine which alternatives are studied in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) analysis. In mid-2014, we will publish the DEIS findings and allow the public another opportunity to comment. We plan to deliver the final report to the Legislature in early 2015.

Have more questions?
Check out our common questions on I-90 tolling to find an answer.