Negotiations are underway among legislators over a transportation package and now it looks like we may not see tolls on I-90 after all.
Rep. Jessyn Farrell, (D-46th District Lake Forest Park, Kenmore,) is a member of the House Transportation Committee. She said figuring out how to pay for the 520 bridge, the Highway 99 tunnel, and impending cuts to bus service won’t be easy.
But what may be welcome news for a lot of cross-lake commuters, is that the pressure to pass some kind of package quickly may mean that tolling I-90 won’t happen. “It is quite possible that we may not toll I-90, at least in the near term, to generate the revenue to fill that shortfall,” Farrell told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.
Farrell said that while we really need to take care of 520, especially in the current transportation package, those are still the kinds of things getting worked out.
“Do you think that this legislature, as currently constituted, with its current politics is going to authorize tolling on I-90?” Farrell asked.
Dave Ross said he assumed the state legislature was “free-enterprise” which believes in user fees.
But according to Farrell, “I think that the politics are going to be very hard and there is an opportunity to pass a package right now.” She thinks that if the package goes before the voters, the idea of finishing what you started makes a lot of common sense.
But as far as paying for it, some people have come to the conclusion that a tax is better than a toll.
“There is this real pressure from a lot of different avenues, from the transit folks, from the freight mobility folks, from the business community, from labor, to do something right now, you could very well see a gas tax paying for the rest of 520. That is because it always takes a lot of pressure to do something big. There is a lot less pressure in two years from now to make those tough decisions especially if we continue to have divided government the way we do now,” she said.
So in other words, “Don’t let a crisis go to waste,” said Farrell agreeing with Ross. “Get the work done that we need to get done.”