Students attend I-90 open forum

i90 toll graphicOn Jan. 30, several students attended an open forum regarding the proposed toll on the I-90 bridge at Bellevue City Hall to represent Bellevue College. The open forum was one of several forums put on by the Washington State department of Transportation as part of an environmental assessment which is defined as “a study required as part of National Environmental Policy Act to establish any effects, either positive or negative, from a potential project” on the WSDOT website.

Since the proposed toll is still in its comment period and won’t go into effect for years if at all, the Associated Student Government is currently less concerned with taking a position on the issue than they are with educating students about what’s going on. Last week during BC’s Club Bash, ASG Marketing Director Heidi Yota, invited students to one of two presentations to help educate students on the environmental assessment and encouraging students to start thinking about how a toll on the I-90 bridge would affect them.

BC’s quest to educate students about the toll is a multi-program effort. The Office of Sustainability and the Office of Student Legislative Affairs are working closely with the ASG to increase awareness about the issue.

Brandon Lueken, the program coordinator for Student Programs and the adviser of the ASG, said that the open forum was “less angry protest and more question and answer.” According to Alex Clark, the communications coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, attendees did not get up and state their opinions about the toll. Instead, there were several tables where people could ask questions of WSDOT employees.

However, had the purpose of the open forum been for attendees to take a stance on the issue, the ASG still would not have spoken out in favor of either side of the debate.

“They might [take a stance] in the future but at the present moment they have not,” said Lueken. “We talked about it a little at our last meeting because right now students are still eligible to post their opinions and thoughts.” Lueken went on to explain that the ASG’s primary goal is to accurately represent the opinions of the student body, and as the comment period for the environmental assessment hasn’t ended, the ASG isn’t able to get an accurate picture of what the student body wants.”