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Lawmaker raising alarm on new toll between Everett and Lake Stevens

A Good to Go pass is used by Washington drivers to pay tolls. (WSDOT)
LISTEN: Rep. Mark Harmsworth not enthused about proposed tolling of US2 trestle

A Washington state representative is sounding an alarm before it’s too late — officials are attempting to place a toll on an oft-used chokepoint between Everett and Lake Stevens.

“This is outrageous what they are proposing here,” said Representative Mark Harmsworth. “It seems to be their default … just go straight to these tolls. Not only for people who are commuting, but small businesses, moms and dads going across that trestle several times a day, it’s an inordinate amount of money.”

RELATED: Seattle council member wants to toll drivers avoiding tolls

Harmsworth represents the state’s 44th District. He has become known as a lawmaker focused on transportation issues, particularly the I-405 express toll lanes. Now he’s calling attention to the US 2 trestle bridge between Everett and Lake Stevens. It’s the primary route between the two cities; otherwise, drivers must travel eight miles to Marysville, or 16 miles south to Snohomish. Either way, drivers will then have to backtrack to get to I-5 or Everett to avoid the toll.

Harmsworth says he’s been given a draft report from the Washington State Department of Transportation and a consultant. The 30-page report on how to add capacity to the aging bridge includes 15 pages promoting a toll of up to $6.30. That toll could be used with federal funding and bonds to pay for the project. For one commuter to pay the toll to and from work, five days a week, it would cost $3,276 a year.

Harmsworth says that the report is expected to be finished and presented to law makers in January. The legislator says he’s getting out ahead of the report to drum up opposition to the toll. He argues that it’s part of how WSDOT bureaucrats often force new tolls and fees on drivers.

“They’ll have a study, then present the study as gospel and expect legislatures to vote for it and put it into place,” Harmsworth said. “This time we have an opportunity to reach out to those legislators, and elected officials, and county officials and say, ‘No, not this time.’ It’s raising that alarm while we still have the opportunity to affect that report.”

Report a chokepoint

“Replacing this trestle is certainly going to be an expensive thing,” he said. “But there are lots of ways in which we can partner with the federal government, the Port of Everett, other partners as well, before we just have a knee-jerk reaction of tolling everybody.”

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