Rep. Mark Harmsworth: WSDOT wants to toll a segment of I-5

Jun 29, 2018, 3:36 PM

express toll lanes, mileage tax...

The toll lanes on 405. (WSDOT)


If you drive through Everett and Marysville on your daily commute, beware — your route could start getting pricey.

Washington State 44th Legislative Dist. Rep. Mark Harmsworth (R-Mill Creek) is warning that the Washington State Department of Transportation is considering tolling I-5 between the Highway 2 trestle in Everett and Marysville.

RELATED: WSDOT apologizes for ‘U SUCK,’ but not for illegal, expanding toll lanes

WSDOT “has been looking at the whole region as a toll region,” Harmsworth told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “And one of the projects that is up on the Puget Sound Regional Council‘s website — which is closely linked with WSDOT and works very closely with WSDOT on all of these things — is a proposed toll lane from Marysville down to Everett at the US2 trestle.”

The plan would be to toll one lane in each direction, the current HOV lanes, similar to I-405, according to Harmsworth. He believes this would be just the tip of the iceberg, however. He pointed out that tolling express lanes has already also been discussed.

“They’re trying to shift the revenue away from [Washington State Constitution] 18th Amendment protected revenue, which has to be spent on roads, to these types of projects,” he said.

As Harmsworth points out that there have already been talks of tolling Highway 2, which passes near Lake Stevens.

“Many constituents that I represent who live in Lake Stevens have come to me and said, ‘I just can’t afford this. I’m a single mom, I’m on a fixed income, I’m in school. I can’t afford this,'” Harmsworth said.

The toll plan

Harmsworth believes that the tolling expansion is all part of a bigger, more sinister plan.

“DOT’s whole premise here is to make it so horrible to drive on a regular purpose lane that you just give up … they’re literally pricing us out of our cars to put us into transit, which is where they ultimately want us all,” he said.

Harmsworth compared the state’s slow increase of tolled roads to a frog in a slowly heating pot of water — the frog does not realize it is being boiled alive until it is too late.

“They want to bring that boiling water up, because we’re the frogs in the boiling water, and they want us to get used to this concept of fundamentally paying for roads through tolls rather than through other means.”

The proposed plan for a toll lane on I-5 between Everett and Marysville will have it open in 2040. Harmsworth expects it to start coming before Legislature in the next few years.

“I’ll be there asking those questions and fighting as hard as I can, because this is not the right way to pay for our roads,” Harmsworth said. “We’ve got plenty of money already.”

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Rep. Mark Harmsworth: WSDOT wants to toll a segment of I-5