Reduce traffic with tolls on I-90 and 520 Floating Bridges Between Seattle and Bellevue 

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Tollling I-90: Better for SR-520 Commuters

Commuters who cross Lake Washington on SR-520, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, understand the value of that commute route.  The time saved crossing the lake as compared to crossing at I-90 or SR-522 is immense.  These commuters want a safe, well-built bridge on SR-520 and are willing to pay a toll for it.

However, the current costs of the project are being laid at the feet of a small minority of the local citizens who will enjoy its benefits.  Commuters on I-90 also receive benefits from the 520 bridge–their commute times decrease significantly when the 520 bridge carries nearly half of the cross-lake daily commute traffic.

The current tolling plan is clearly enticing drivers to switch commute routes to SR-522 and I-90, bogging down commutes on those highways and crowding surface streets in local neighborhoods.

The costs of the 520 bridge should be shared by all who benefit.  Let traffic resume its previous patterns.  Shorten commute times county-wide, and lessen the burden on a select few.  Toll I-90 and SR-520, spread the cost of improvements to all of the beneficiaries of the 520 bridge.

Tolling I-90 is better for:

520 Floating Bridge Tolls

 
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Tolling I-90: Better for Mercer Island

Stuck in the middle of the I-90 tolling issue is Mercer Island.  Halfway between Seattle and Bellevue, this island enclave wasn’t likely to support a toll on I-90 before tolling had started on SR-520.

The new traffic situation may be changing residents’ opinions.  Mercer Island is now in the middle of a gridlocked commute for longer, darker, slower hours every morning and night.  Tens of thousands of new commuters have converged to pack the I-90 floating bridges and escape the tolls on SR-520.  Residents who stay on the island full-time are not affected, but these are few. Most leave the island for work, dining, shopping, and entertainment.

A toll would obviously disproportionately affect the residents whose only only access to Mercer Island is I-90.  It might make sense to allow a credit, discount, or exempt-status pass for permanent residents, whether on a a full-time basis or possibly in the evenings and weekends.  Opponents of a toll had expressed concern that the local Mercer Island businesses would be hurt by fewer customers if a toll were instituted.  The same could be said if it takes 45 minutes to cross I-90 in gridlock.

Reduced Tolling for Mercer Island residents

There are many great ideas for reducing the disproportionate burden of tolling on Mercer Island residents.  The best include transponders on both sides of the island.  If each transponder only charged a half toll, Islanders could travel to Seattle or the Eastside and pay half of what a cross-lake traveler would pay.  Even better, the transponders could only charge a toll if a driver pass both sides of the island on the same day.  Seattleites could shop in M.I., and island residents could travel in either direction without paying.  They’d only pay a toll if they crossed the whole lake, like the rest of the commuters.

Mercer Island is in an interesting position, because the island isn’t technically serviced at all by the SR-520 bridge.  The indirect benefits of tolling I-90 and SR-520 for the residents of Mercer Island are clear, though.  Tolls on I-90 would significantly improve the quality of life and access to work and home for residents at a low cost. Commuters could speed quickly through the island as opposed to stalling, fuming, and blocking on-ramp or off-ramp lanes.

Tolls on 520 are here to stay, along with the waves of new commuters on I-90.  The traffic situation must be addressed in light of those realities, and tolling both bridges is the simplest way to reverse the congestion issues.  Mercer Island would see a significant benefit from the tolling of both the I-90 and the SR-520 bridges.

Tolling I-90 is better for:
Mercer Island I-90 Bridge Tolls
 
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Tolling I-90: Better for I-90 Commuters

I-90 commuters didn’t like the idea of a toll on I-90 when it was first proposed. Now that 520 tolls are pushing traffic and congestion onto their freeway and into their neighborhoods, however, a change in thinking is necessary.

A significant percentage (estimated 20%-30%) of the SR-520 commuters are jumping over to I-90 to cross Lake Washington.  This creates a longer, slower, darker commute, with tens of thousands of additional cars every day on I-90. The simple answer to return I-90 traffic to its previous levels is to toll both bridges at half-price.

Tolls on I-90 and 520 would mean that commuters would have no incentive to switch bridges, and traffic levels would return to normal levels.  For the neighborhoods at both ends of the I-90 floating bridge, local street congestion would be eased.  Commute times would shrink.

The SR-520 Evergreen Point Floating Bridge provides great value for I-90 commuters.  It allows nearly half of the lake-crossing commuter traffic to stay on the North end and keep the I-90 commute reasonable.  Paying a toll to keep I-90 traffic down and improve the region’s roads is a common sense approach that should be paid for by all who benefit.

We don’t need to artificially restructure the commute routes of tens of thousands of our citizens.  Toll I-90 and 520 for a logical and fair solution.

I-90 Bridge Tolls

 

 
 
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