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February 4, 2013 at 4:00 PM

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Some Mercer Island residents oppose Interstate 90 tolling

Living on an island is a choice

I have no sympathy for people who choose to live on islands. Look at Bainbridge, Vashon, Whidbey and the San Juans — they all have to pay a lot more than $8 a day to get on and off their islands. Mercer Island should be no exception [“I-90 tolls: Islanders incensed,” page one, Jan. 31]. The tolls should be put in the place, and the residents of Mercer Island should receive no special treatment or exceptions.

Unfortunately, because Mercer Island is a community of mostly white, privileged people, I’m afraid they will get their way. For the residents to compare themselves to Alcatraz shows just how out of touch they are with the realities of the “common” people, not to mention how ridiculous that comparison is. They should be ashamed of themselves for sounding so snobby.

I support the tolls — we need to pay for our roads — and everyone should pay the same. No exceptions — well, maybe there should be exceptions for those low-income single moms and dads struggling to keep a roof over their and their children’s heads as they travel to and from work every day. The hardship of paying an extra $1,900 a year could make their realities a living nightmare.

--Joey Kesselring, Shoreline

Attention should be shifted toward method of financing

As a 40-plus-year resident of Mercer Island, it seems to me that readers are ill-served by Ron Judd’s flippant take on the current discussions regarding tolling on I-90 [“I-90 tolling: Mansion-ringed Mercer Island wants a free pass,” seattletimes.com, Feb. 3]. True, it’s his opinion, but highly prejudicial when he says we expect “everyone but [us] to pay for a service that [we] benefit from more than anybody.”

In and to ourselves, it is true that we are landlocked. But when the estimate of $3,000 per car per year is posed, who can really afford it? Look at the real demographics and you might see a much broader spectrum than Judd alluded to as our “mansion-ringed” island. It is the charge to the Washington State Department of Transportation to sort all this out in its research before the Legislature weighs in on this issue.

The true measure of what’s right or wrong might come down to the question as to why I-90 should be tolled just to pay for the $1.4 billion in excess costs of the new 520 bridge, perhaps a project that should not have been started without the money to pay for it. Beyond that is the archaic method this state has for financing its operations. But, sigh, that might be a better target for Judd’s fanciful frustration.

--Richard D. Brody, Mercer Island

Reasonable taxes should support highways

I’m not a longtime Mercer Islander. I only moved here five years ago from the Midwest. But I’m here now and fully indoctrinated into the craziness of commuting across water on packed bridges. When the toll was imposed on Highway 520, I couldn’t believe how shockingly high it was.

I felt strongly that it would be a hardship for those who had to use that bridge twice every day. My reaction at that time? They should toll both bridges and split the cost evenly between both. If only they had. Commutes on both bridges would have remained level (instead I-90 commutes became even more insane), and no one driver would have been imposed upon unreasonably.

Now, instead, both bridges will probably be tolled at that excessive rate. Pretty predictable, but at least more fair. Even better? Impose reasonable taxes that actually support the state’s highways.

Tim Eyman, are you reading this? Go plague some other state. Washington needs a grown-up method of paying for its infrastructure. It won’t get one until its citizens realize that a progressive tax structure is the best, most reasonable way to pay for roads, bridges and everything else a state needs.

--Mary Browning, Mercer Island


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