Mercer Island leaders are calling on federal officials to help stop the state from imposing tolls on Interstate 90 across Lake Washington.
In a letter sent earlier this week to the Federal Highway Administration obtained by Mercer Island Patch, a lawyer for the city says the tolling would violate federal law by using the tolls to pay for an unrelated project. The state has proposed tolling I-90 to offset a $1.4 billion budget shortfall for the new SR 520 bridge project.
The letter also argues the state should be required to put the I-90 tolling through a full environmental impact review before it can be approved.
In a separate letter to WSDOT, attorney William Chapman with K&L Gates also argues the tolling would have a significant impact on numerous other communities as drivers avoid I-90 and head for other roads instead to avoid paying.
Chapman points to SR-520, where he claims traffic increased 13% on I-90 and SR-522 after tolling began on SR-520. He argues new tolling could cause even greater diversion to SR-522 and I-405.
“Transportation impacts would also be magnified during SR-520 bridge reconstruction when overall capacity is lower than normal and I-90 provides the only direct access across Lake Washington,” he writes.
The toll proposal is expected to be a hot topic at two town meetings Saturday in Newcastle and Sammamish hosted by 41st Legislative District lawmakers.
Lawmakers from the 41st Legislative District are holding two town hall meetings this Saturday to talk about issues affecting Mercer Island residents. Treat believes a number of citizens concerned with the state’s tolling proposal will attend the meetings and share their concerns with state leaders. Details about each of the meetings can be found online.