Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Possible tolling of Interstate 90 sparks debate
Taxes don’t always directly impact residents
Your story “I-90 tolls: Islanders incensed” [page one, Jan. 31] quotes one Mercer Island resident asking “Why should I be paying tolls for somebody else’s bridge?”
We have a question for that resident: Who paid for your bridge? We live in Seattle and seldom use it.
--Michael and Beret Kischner, Seattle
Good To Go passes for Islanders
A modest proposal: How difficult would it be to program Good To Go passes to allow Mercer Island residents free or reduced toll rates?
--Jonathan Bensky, Seattle
Mercer Island’s “special” treatment
As a Bellevue resident who has to cross the lake to go to Seattle, or beyond, I don’t like bridge tolls. But, if we have to have them to pay for our new pre-cracked bridge on Highway 520, I have to agree we should toll both bridges, so all who benefit can pay a share.
Now comes the Mercer Island outrage because they would have to pay like the rest of us. But, will they?
Of course they didn’t have to pay tolls for the new I-90 Mercer Island Bridge. And they were exempt from the HOV lane restrictions on the new I-90 as long as they enter and exit on their island. I think they will probably end up being exempt from I-90 bridge tolls too, just because they’ve a history of “special” treatment.
But if they do, I would propose consideration of a special Mercer Islander toll on the East Channel Bridge, so they can pay to come to Bellevue, if they prefer that as an alternative to their free drive to Seattle. They apparently don’t consider that as a viable route now.
--Ron Simpson, Bellevue
Tolling will cost jobs, sales and reduce property values
It appears that the government of the region favors tolling for revenue on I-90 in response to lower traffic flows on Highway 520 and increased congestion on the I-90 floating bridge. So taxing I-90 will alleviate the concerns of a $1.4 billion shortfall on the Seattle side of 520.
I live and work on Mercer Island, and travel to Seattle and the Eastside at least three times per day. At a $4 tax rate, that would be about $7,000 per year in regressive taxes. That is ridiculous and will cost jobs, businesses sales and decreased property taxes due to decreased values. It doesn’t matter what car I drive, how far, or alternate routes (costs about the same to drive around plus time and expenses). Why would guests visit me when they have to pay?
First off, I totally disagree with statements by Washington State Department of Transportation that it is fair and neutral to divide traffic. It is punitive in that the WSDOT knew traffic would drop on 520 and already had in place federal agreement that they could use this tool if need be. Now, they deem that it is needed, and plan a $7,000 per year tax for the rest of my life. I am 52 years old. They pulled a bait and switch.
I would suggest that to cover the shortfall, the Legislature by two-thirds majority) reinstate car-tab fees. Use those fees instead of tolling. The state will then not be imposing a regressive tax. The state will be using a tax on the cost of the vehicle. This tax is not regressive, as tolls are.
--Thomas H. King, Mercer Island