WSDOT Schedules I-90 Tolling Meetings in January

State engineers seek public input to design and scope an environmental assessment study of tolling the Interstate 90 corridor between I-5 and I-405.

WSDOT is preparing an environmental assessment of tolling on Interstate 90 and has scheduled three public meetings in January to help design the study and keep the public involved.

The environmental assessment study is intended to measure the effects tolling the I-90 corridor between I-5 and I-405 will have, according to a news release.

WSDOT says tolls are being considered to generate revenue to help fund replacement of the SR 520 floating bridge, which is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after weathering decades of wind and waves. I-90 tolling will also help alleviate congestion on I-90 giving travelers a safer, more reliable trip.

Commuters and communities are encouraged to get involved with the project design and study process by learning about the project and submitting comments.

What is an environmental assessment?

An environmental assessment is a study required as part of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to establish any influences, either positive or negative, about a potential project. By considering environmental effects and mitigation measures early, an EA supports better decision making and provides opportunities for public participation. The end result of the I-90 environmental assessment will be a report that consists of a technical evaluation and social and economic review of tolling on I-90.

The study aims to explain:

  • why tolling on I-90 is being considered
  • how it would be implemented
  • how the proposed approach was developed
  • how tolling would affect those who use I-90 and surrounding communities, including low-income populations
  • other possible environmental effects such as land use, economics, energy and climate change

How can you get involved

The environmental assessment process provides an opportunity for citizens to be involved with decision making, have access to information about the study, and contact the project team so they can take information into account. Project scoping is an ideal time to provide input to the process; however community input is welcome at any time.

WSDOT Tolls Division spokesperson Colleen Gants said much of the input received from the public would guide the study and could have an impact on its conclusions.

"For example, we don't know yet where we would place the toll gantry," in the I-90 corridor, said Gants. "We are looking at that whole stretch of roadway."

The scoping period runs from Jan. 22 to Feb. 22, 2013, and comments can be made by contacting WSDOT Communications Specialist Michell Mouton at I90study@wsdot.wa.gov or by calling 206-464-1249.

Upcoming Public Meetings

  • Mercer Island Community Center Jan. 29 (4pm-7pm) 8236 Southeast 24th Street Mercer Island, WA 98040
    Get directions
  • Bellevue City Hall Jan. 30 (4pm-7pm) 450 110th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
    Get directions
  • Yesler Community Center Jan. 31 (4pm-7pm) 917 East Yesler Way Seattle, WA 98122  (construction on East Yesler Way - please access parking from Washington St.) 
    Get directions 

(Ed. Note: The information in this article is taken from a WSDOT news release.)

Dave Hruska January 01, 2013 at 12:53 AM
I will once again share my thoughts with WSDOT (which in the past has fallen on deft ears) that tolling is an unfair and discriminatory tax applied unfairly in the State of Washington on new highway construction projects!
Malia Kawaguchi January 01, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Dave - can you suggest what would be a fair and good way to pay for new highway construction?
Tom Jamieson January 01, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Taxation in proportion to consumption. How novel. How un-American.
jdrabe January 01, 2013 at 09:21 AM
We already paid for I 90
Jon H January 01, 2013 at 05:44 PM
How about the gas tax money we already pay?
B.whitbeck January 01, 2013 at 07:50 PM
I guess if you don't support a toll system, then you support increasing the gas tax? Otherwise, how do you pay for this stuff?
Jerry costing an January 01, 2013 at 08:15 PM
When we have the facts about where and how are present taxes are spent, we will be able to make a good decision on how to move ahead.
Jamie Holter January 01, 2013 at 10:14 PM
There are plenty of facts about current taxes and how they are spent. What is it that you don't know, don't understand, made an effort to learn about? Do you ever ask or look something up or just post complaints online? Transportation taxes are spent building roads, ramps, adding cameras, maintaining web sites, filling potholes, snow and ice...
Stephen January 01, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Gas taxes are not only fair, but you don't have to create another government agency to collect them.
Susan Milke January 01, 2013 at 11:59 PM
It seems that we have the highest gas tax in the nation and they propose increasing it. We have more people living and driving here so you would think they are collecting more taxes. We do drive more fuel-efficient cars, but there should be a balance. The tolls (and fines) they are collecting on the 520 are huge! But half of the bridge isn't paid for. It seems they never have enough money. How about an audit. There is always waste in government. And also I-90 is a federal highway that I thought could not be tolled!
Jamie Holter January 02, 2013 at 01:20 AM
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2012/12/27_oneyearof520tolling.htm Here is a press release about the finances regarding 520. Here is a PDF of the most recent audit. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/978C37DC-7A8B-4F78-A39D-2CDBFD47A54E/0/520AuditedStatements6302012pdf.pdf Here is a story from a couple years ago about states that want to pursue tolls on federal highways from Governing magazine. The "why" is included. http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/states-take-closer-look-interstate-tolling.html Page 10 of this presentation shows where the gas tax goes: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/publications/fulltext/secretary/StateOfTransportation.pdf Washington does NOT have the highest gas tax in the nation. NY, Conn. and CA are the top three. We are in the top ten.
Geoff Hazel January 02, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Jamie, that article from Governing was quite good. And what I found interesting was that they said that states need Federal approval to toll an Interstate, and that any money collected had to be spend on the road being tolled. How the WSDOT thinks they can get around this will be interesting.
Korbett Mosesly January 03, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Geoff, there is more information on the WSDOT website about the study. It states that WSDOT is working with the Federal Highway Administration on the NEPA environmental assessment. Check out WWW.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/i90
Kendall Watson January 03, 2013 at 05:46 AM
Thank you Jamie for providing us all with this excellent and useful information. Kudos!!!
Thomas Imrich January 03, 2013 at 06:32 PM
The principal causes of I-90 congestion, or bridge wear, are not due to Mercer Island. The causes are more subtle and related to flawed funding and use policies related to unchecked eastside development, with the development stakeholders and eastside communities not paying their fully allocated costs. They also relate to the diversion of traffic from 520, and increasing point source event traffic, as from stadiums and sporting events that are also not paying their fully allocated fair share costs for the region. Mercer Islanders and MI employees have no other choice but to travel the bridges. Buses are already nearly useless for most islanders, and future light rail will be even more useless for most needed trips to employment, medical, or other essential needs (even for simple things, as if we lose True Value, due to our Council's past flawed zoning and development policies). The time is now to assure that both the Council and City staff adopt a firm position that Islanders NOT pay ANY I-90 bridge tolls, regardless of any eventual bridge tolling decision.


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