Tolling I-90 Is Not A Done Deal!
Your Continued Participation Can Prevent Tolling I-90.
Proposition 1 and it's potential impact on tolling
[updated April, 2014]
Proposition No. 1 from the King County Transportation District is on the ballot. Users of I-90 need to carefully consider the ramifications of this proposition as the letter below from Mike Cero, Mercer Island City Council member highlights. The additional fees and taxes of Proposition No. 1 will NOT contribute to the $1.4 billion shortfall for the extravagant western approach to the 520 bridge. If these additional fees from Proposition No. 1 burden King County residents, King County voters are less likely to approve a gas tax increase, which would include SR520 funding as well as other much needed transportation projects. Tolling on I-90 will therefore be a more likely scenario since no other revenue source for funding the unfunded western portion of SR520 would be available.
Mercer Island City Council Member Mike Cero's Letter:
I was talking with a dear friend of mine the other day when the issue of Proposition 1 came up. Basically, my friend implied voting for Proposition 1 will at least stop tolling on I90...right???? Unfortunately, voting for Proposition 1 actually increases the likelihood of I90 tolls. The exact opposite affect my friend thought Proposition 1 would have.
The State needs a funding mechanism to pay for the unfunded/untolled portion of the western portion of SR520. I trust our Federal leaders will recognize the poor policy in tolling an interstate to pay for a state highway and not authorize I90 tolls. Additionally, I trust our state leaders will recognize the increase congestion and corresponding environmental degradation tolling I90 will cause on I405, I5 and the southern portion of the Lake. The most viable and efficient mechanism to pay for SR520 is for our State Legislature to pass an $.11 gas tax increase. Understandably, passing Proposition 1 decreases the likelihood King County voters will also vote for a follow on gas tax increase.
Proposition 1 consists of a $60 car tab and a .1% sales tax increase, raising $1.5 billion over 10 years. Initially, 60% will go to Metro, 12% for county roads and the remaining to 28% to cities. State elections are dependent on King County voters. King County voters burdened with this new $60 car tab and a transportation sales tax increase are unlikely to support additional transportation taxes. I appreciate King County Leaders with the chutzpah to jump to the "front of the line", but Proposition 1 unnecessarily jeopardizes a gas tax increase. A gas tax increase that is critical in keeping tolls off I90 and financing other critical state transportation road and bridge projects. Many projects which directly benefit King County, ie SR520, SR 520, SR167 and others.
Metro claims they will cut services by 17% if Proposition 1 is not passed. Between 2000 and 2012, Metro's operating costs increased by 83%. Operating costs were not offset by corresponding ridership services. In that time, costs increased 83% while ridership only increased 20%. In a policy era of increasing King County building density, the environment is ideal for Metro's ridership to outpace Metro's expenses, ie more transit riders in the same area. As a baseline of potential savings, last year Pierce Transit publicized 53% in bus service cuts without a tax increase. After voters turned down their tax increase, Pierce Transit managers and policy makers made the decisions to adjust to revenue realities. Pierce Transit actually cancelled all of the planned 56% cuts and even recognized enough improvements to expand services by 3% next year. Our Metro can do the same.
Proposition 1 also includes funds for county roads and cities. Funds for cities is political calculus for garnering city endorsements. Instead of the County taxing citizens and transferring those funds to cities, local councils should make strong cases to their local constituents for additional local transportation taxes. For Mercer Island, our total 2013 General Fund surplus is $637,000. Whether we need additional local transportation taxes is an issue of prioritizing between must have services from nice to have services.
Like many of our Mercer Islanders leaders, I remain committed to stopping I90 tolls. They are bad for the region and bad for Mercer Island. Proposition 1 does not improve our probability to stop I90 tolls. Vote No to Prop 1. Vote No to Tolls.
Mercer Island Council Member
Contact Your State And Federal Represetatives.
Click here for contact information.
Ask Questions, Suggest Alternatives
- Question the idea of I-90 and SR-520 constituting one cross-lake "corridor." Traffic on SR-520 and I-90 serves different populations and purposes
- Increased congestion on alternate routes will increase negative environmental impacts on surrounding communities
- Suggest alternate funding sources for SR-520 completion: reconfigure, postpone SR-520 west approach, gas taxes dedicated to SR-520 completion, vehicle miles driven taxes, delay Eastlink to fund SR-520 completion
- Stress that tolling impacts the entire Puget Sound region: affecting congestion on SR-522, traffic in communities north and south of I-90, commercial traffic from Eastern Washington taking alternate routes
For information about the scoping process, meetings and comments click here.
Do NOT ALLOW the state to narrow the SCOPE of IMPACT to only traffic on I-90 or to limit funding alternatives for the SR-520 project.
U.S. Congressmen Express I-90 Tolling Concerns to the FHWA
Congressman Adam Smith (9th Congressional District) writes to Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transport. Click here for details.
Congressman Dave Reichert (8th Congressional District) writes to Anthony Foxx, the incoming Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, regarding I-90 tolling. In his letter, Congressman Reichert raises concerns about the potential impacts of tolling on commerce and the legality of tolling I-90.Click here for details.
We are very thankful to these Congressmen for their support.
Update: EIS Now Required!
With the passage and signing of ESSB 5024 on 5/20/13 by Gov. Inslee, an evironmental impact statement (EIS) is now required before tolling I-90 for "providing funding for the construction of the unfunded state route number 520 from Interstate 5 to Medina project" can occur. The bill also requires the WSDOT to "perform a study of all funding alternatives to tolling Interstate 90 to provide funding for construction of the unfunded state route number 520 and explore and evaluate options to mitigate the effect or tolling on affected residents and all other users of the network and highways and roads surrounding Lake Washington..."
This is an important step in bringing to light the deleterious economic, social and qualitiy of life impacts on the entire I-90 corridor of tolling I-90. The requirement to explore alternatives for funding the unfunded part of route 520 is also an important aspect to this legislation.
City of Mercer Island's Recent Action Opposing Tolls on I-90
Click here for details.
Washington Policy Center article says that tolling I-90 is fundamentally flawed. Click here for article.
Tolling I-90 bridge is the wrong approach Just because the state can toll does not mean it should. Click here for Seattle Times Op-Ed.
Stop Tolling From Spreading
This map shows it is not just I-90 that tolls are planned for. Click the map to go to see more details of possible tolls.
Call Your Representatives
Please CALL your State Representatives with your reasons for opposition to I-90 tolling.
Phone numbers are listed on the Contact Officials page. CALLING is very important to convey the urgency and negative impact of the tolling proposal on the lives of everyone along I-90. Also call your federal representatives.
Contact Your City Council Representatives
Whichever city you live in, contact, write, call your City Council Representatives. Write to your State Representatives (find them here). Your federal representatives are also listed under the Contact Officials link at the top of this page.
Tolling Preparations Are Happening Now!
Tolling I-90 is wrong. Here's why:
- Tolling I-90 bridge is the wrong approach Just because the state can toll does not mean it should. Click here for Seattle Times Op-Ed.
- Tolling I-90 will NOT decrease the toll on the SR 520 bridge due to negotiated bond agreements for SR 520 bridge construction.
- Tolling on I-90 is only the beginning. The following links indicate the I-5 and I-405 tolling studies of the Puget Sound area undertaken or being undertaken by WSDOT at the direction of the legislature: Click: I-405 Click: I-5
- Tolling, assuming just one roundtrip to work 50 weeks a year for one family member, at $7.00 roundtrip, would cost each family a minimum of $1,750 per year increasing to...
- Tolls on SR 520 during peak-hour one way travel started at $3.50 in 2012, have risen to $3.59 for 2013, and will increase each year to $4.33 by 2016.
- Tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge have gone from $1.75 in 2007 to $2.75 in 2009 to $4.00 in 2013, and are scheduled to increase to $6.00 in 2016.
- Tolling I-90 would affect all residents, businesses, and employees along its corridor.
- Tolling I-90 would affect commercial and freight traffic all along its corridor.
- Tolling creates an economic and social divide between Seattle and the greater Eastside and isolates Mercer Island.
- Tolling I-90 amounts to a "penalty tax" for living on Mercer Island, going to school there, working there, and doing business there. Mercer Island is a neighborhood community from which almost all trips necessary to maintain its residents’ quality of life - employment, health care, shopping, after-school activities, charity, entertainment - are to and from the mainland. Anyone coming to visit, shop, or work, whether friend, relative, or persons delivering goods or services would be affected. It is unique in that it is entirely dependent upon the I-90 bridges for land access to and from home. Therefore, for families living on Mercer Island, this “penalty tax” would amount to multiples of $1,750, increasing to ….
- Tolling would be a deterrent for participation in cross-lake charitable activities.
- Tolling I-90 will influence family decisions where to send children to school as well as increase costs for accessing cultural, sports and entertainment facilities and activities throughout the I-90 corridor.
- Tolling I-90 would result in I-90 commuters paying a greater proportion of SR 520 bridge construction costs than SR 520 commuters due to greater vehicle volume on I-90 than on SR 520.
- Users of an existing facility--that has already been paid for with their taxes-- shouldn’t be asked to now pay a toll day after day, forever, to fund a replacement bridge in another corridor. Click to see: Seattle Times 2009 Article of Judy Clibborn's statement
Call the Legislative Hotline number below to contact the Senate or House legislator fom your district: 1-800-562-6000.
Write in with your opinon. Here are two sample letters (one for individuals and one for organizations (please use either and edit as you wish). Your comments should include the specific economic and social impacts that tolling will have on your business and activities.
Here are sample comments and letters - Pease edit comments to pertain to your personal situation or download and edit the sample letters below:
Sample Letters - Please Download And Edit
Sample optional comments to add to the above letters
- My children's after school activities (sports, music, etc) require travel multiple times a week from_____ to_____ .
- My job requires several trips per day to various sites from____ to ______.
- The care of my elderly parent requires (daily, multiple) trips from____ to ______.
- I live on the (Eastside or Seattle) and work in (Seattle or Eastside) and the cost of commuting would consume _% of my salary. I can not afford this extra cost of $2,000/year.
- I would not be able to continue with my charitable activities since they require travelling from ____ to _____.
- Bringing my children and picking them up at school would involve at least two round trips a day which would impact the choice of my children's school.
- My place of worship and religious obligations require me to travel from _____ to _____ . A toll would severely impact my ability to exercise this essential aspect of my life.
There are many organizations and individuals which need to be made aware of the hardships that tolling will exact on the cities and population along the I-90 corridor. Tolling I-90 is unacceptable.
Contact your City Council, the Washington State Transportation Commission, our Governor, our State Legislature, and all other planning and/or government authorities, local, regional, and federal. Details are on the Contact Officials page.
Virginia: Public Outcry Against Tolling
When faced with tolling an existing facility to fund construction of a separate, new facility, Virginians sued. Click on these links for the documents.