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State to discuss tolling of I-90 bridge at Bellevue meeting

The state is considering putting tolls on the I-90 bridge, perhaps as early as 2014. - Megan Managan, Reporter Newspapers
The state is considering putting tolls on the I-90 bridge, perhaps as early as 2014.
— image credit: Megan Managan, Reporter Newspapers

The Washington State Department of Transportation will host three public meetings this month – one of them in Bellevue – about the possibility of tolling Interstate 90 I-5 in Seattle to I-405 in Bellevue. The meetings are part of the environmental assessment being done by WSDOT.

Tolls are being considered to generate revenue to help pay for replacing the SR-520 floating bridge. Tolling on I-90 also is projected to help alleviate congestion on the road.

"Tolling on I-90 between I-5 and I-405 is needed to generate revenue to help complete the SR 520 program and to help alleviate congestion on I-90," WSDOT said in a statement. "Scoping is an opportunity to gather feedback that will shape the tolling study."

The three meetings are part of the public input process, which is open from Jan. 22 through Feb. 22.

The Bellevue meeting will be from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E.

The environmental assessment is required by the National Environmental Protection Act to understand any influences, both positive and negative, about the project. Public input will allow residents to take part in the process and to learn more about the study.

The study will ask why tolling is being considered, how to implement it and how tolling would affect those who use the bridge and the surrounding communities, as well as look at the possible environment effects on land use, economics, energy and climate change.

When the bridge between Mercer Island and Seattle, known as the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge, opened in 1940 tolls were required to cross, a practice which stayed in place until 1949. While there have not been tolls on the bridge for many years, since 1999, when the state Legislature began looking at replacing the State Route 520 bridge, tolls on I-90 have been discussed to help with traffic.

In 2009 the SR 520 Legislative Workgroup, which reviewed and recommended the financing strategy to fund the 520 design, discussed tolling on I-90. The group recommended creating and early tolling of the HOT lanes on I-90 as soon as was practicable, a project which has since been funded by Sound Transit and completed across portions of I-90 on Mercer Island.

The group also recommended that if the remaining gap in funding couldn't be filled in with new federal or state revenue that general tolling on I-90 should start no sooner than 2014.

Other public meetings on the issue will be:

Jan. 29: 4-7 p.m., Mercer Island Community and Event Center, 8236 S.E. 24th St.

Jan. 31: 4-7 p.m., Yesler Community Center, 917 East Yesler Way, Seattle.

Comments can also be sent to I90EAcomments@wsdot.wa.gov, and by mail to Angela Angove, I-90 Tolling Project, 999 Third Ave. Suite 2200, Seattle, Wa 98104.

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