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Nearly all at hearing in Bellevue oppose I-90 tolling, too

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bellevueBELLEVUE — The possibility that drivers on Interstate 90 will have to pay tolls between Seattle and Bellevue has created uproar.

The Washington State Department of Transportation held its second of three public forums on the issue Wednesday night.  The first one was at Mercer Island on Tuesday night. Wednesday’s was at Bellevue City Hall.

An average driver on the State Route 520 Bridge pays more than $7 round-trip during rush hour.

The high tolls drove 15,000 drivers daily to take I-90. And now there’s a proposal to toll the I-90 bridge, too.

“The Legislature has asked us to look at the question of if you were to toll I-90, how would you do it,” WSDOT official Craig Stone told the crowd in Bellevue.

And it’s that question that has left hundreds feeling trapped, with nowhere to go.

“I won’t be able to leave the house. I’m sorry. I am against; it’s a no no,” said Bellevue resident Susie Ollis.

It was a smaller crowd at Bellevue City Hall compared with the hundreds who showed up at Mercer Island Tuesday night, but it didn’t mean the group was any less angry.

“It’s being rammed down our throats by petulant politicians,” said Robert Shay.

Shay said all the toll talk is enough to make him relocate.

“I will probably move because you are not allowing me to get out of state without paying a toll,” said Shay.

“Move,” said Redmond resident Andrew Acker in response. He is one of the few who spoke in favor of the idea. “We need to make money and make better bridges and roads,” he said.

Acker supports tolls, saying it is better than raising the state’s gas tax.

“I think they should toll both bridges, but a dollar each way,” said Acker.

Acker’s suggestion of a $1 toll was posed to WSDOT.

“A dollar won’t meet our needs. We have a gap from 520 (Bridge) of $1.4 billion,” said Stone.

WSDOT said if the money isn’t raised somehow, the west end of the 520 Bridge replacement project is in jeopardy.

“It is ludicrous to fund one corridor to support another financial corridor’s misstep,” said Woodinville resident Paul Cowles.

“You are going to drive more drivers to take other routes and create congestion in other places,” expressed one man.

It wasn’t an open mic forum but many still expressed their frustrations at lawmakers in Olympia.

“I will say it to your face: You’re gutless,” said Shay.

“I expected it to be an input meeting but it was more of an information meeting,” said Bellevue resident Kelly Erhlich.

WSDOT says nothing is a done deal and they are urging people to attend Thursday’s meeting at Yesler Community Center from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. If not, make a comment online — Click here to comment  — so lawmakers will get your opinion

Another round of hearings will be held in November. WSDOT will submit its environmental study by the end of the year. Lawmakers could vote in 2014 and, if approved, I-90 tolls will start late 2015 or early 2016.

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  • norman yelin

    This liberal government has nothing to offer other than unnecessary grandious projects and more and more taxes. They do not know how to do anything else.

  • Will

    I-90 is a federal highway paid for by other tax dollars. What if every town between here and Boston along the way decides to toll it. Could cost a million to drive across the country. I got a better idea let's ask the greedy politicians what they did with all the money set aside for road work and all the other stuff that has slowly been going away in the name of progress. Or here is a better one ..when did the government decide that the people are there for their personnal piggy bank. Originally the government was supposed to work for the people (it is a public service job right) now the government tells the people what to do and if you say anything against them it's considered terrorism.
    The people that founded this country would be ashamed of where it's gone. Only in public service do you work 2-4 years and receive full retirement and Insurance and bennies that those who work and pay taxes for the so call public servants will never see. Times…they are a changing.

  • guest

    get ready to pay, this is being done by the politicians YOU voted for. do your research before you vote rather than choosing a commercial you like on tv.

  • jjj

    I don't see how tolling of this area is any different than tolling for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the captive audience on the Olympic Peninsula – who are most like alot less affluent than those on Mercer Island. And since the Tacoma bridge toll is about to go UP to $4.50 or so each way – the I-90 toll should START at that point.

  • SpeakOut

    Are you seriously comparing Mercer Island–a tiny, 5-mile island that doesn't even have a clinic–to the Olympic Peninsula? The Olympic Peninsula has several cities, a naval shipyard, lots of Costcos, a couple state of the art hospitals…Yes, the people in Gig Harbor who depended on Tacoma got screwed by the State, so to fight back they built up their own infrastructure–causing Tacoma businesses to lose customers. As the state has gotten less revenue, it's raised Tacoma bridge tolls, causing fewer people to use it–again hurting Tacoma businesses…I'm not seeing a lot of win here…Some people in the Tacoma area, feeling a little penalized, might think it would be good for users of I-90 to suffer too–but if the state tolls a bridge that is fully paid for–there's no longer anything to stop them from tolling the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge (as they tried to do before–but couldn't because it was paid for).

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