In 2012, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation directing the Washington State Department of Transportation to study the effects of a potential toll on I-90. The Legislature directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to also study the effects of tolling I-90 between I-5 in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue as a way to relieve congestion across Lake Washington as well as help fund the remaining portion of the State Route 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program.
The Legislature has asked the WSDOT and federal administrations to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed I-90 Tolling Project that meets the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. WSDOT and FHWA will present a range of courses of action based on feedback from initial outreach efforts and prior studies.
A public meeting to explain the WSDOT study was held at Bellevue College on Oct. 10, 2013. Corridors Tolled Director John White said: “The purpose of the study is to get input from the public by helping to give the best solution to the problem and to raise fund in completion of the project. We need to analyze the tolling effect towards environment, economy and people’s welfare.” About $1.4 billion is needed to complete the I-5 to Medina: Bridge Replacement and HOV Project. The project will replace the Portage Bay and west bridge approach structures which are vulnerable to earthquakes because of hollow bridge columns.
“People in Seattle who depend on Interstate 90 as a vital route between Seattle and Eastgate will soon face the impact of tolling,” said Jennifer Charlebois of WSDOT.
White is certain that public feedback will give the best alternative in response to the study. “Still, the tolling depends on how and when people use the Cross-Lake Washington Corridor. If a person travels alone, maybe the tolling will be higher than if a group of people travel. Or, by avoiding rush hours, the tolling will be lower,” he said.
As part of the I-90 Tolling Project EIS, additional public meetings are being held on Mercer Island on Oct. 21 and in Seattle on Oct. 23. These meetings are for the public to learn more about the proposal and have the opportunity to ask questions. WSDOT and FHWA officials will be present to listen to comments from the public. All meetings will be on public record.