Last week’s Bellevue Reporter (1/18) headline “State to talk I-90 tolls at Bellevue meeting” should be no surprise. I-90 tolls however are not the way to ease I-90 congestion or to fund SR520 construction. First of all revenue from forcing I-90 commuters to pay tolls for a bridge they’ll never use will still be far short of what’s required. Second, Eastside residents already pay more than their “fair” share with the .9% sales tax that accounts for about 40% of all Sound Transit revenue.
Unfortunately nearly all that money has been and will continue to be spent for several more years on Sound Transit’s Central Link. Much of the money ST has spent on the eastside has been wasted promoting a flawed East Link light rail proposal.
ST and the WSDOT need to recognize their decision to ignore bus rapid transit (BRT) for center roadway was a monumental blunder. They’ve not only wasted millions, they’ve forced cross-lake commuters to needlessly endure years of increased congestion. Allowing East Link to proceed will result in additional billions wasted on a light rail system that will devastate parts of Bellevue, inevitably result in gridlock on 1-90 Bridge, and do nothing to ease congestion along SR405 and I-90 corridors. (Unless BBB or Freeman/ETA suits stop East Link)
The East Link money, again much of which comes from the eastside, should be used to pay for the SR520 corridor construction and eliminate tolls on either bridge. If ST and WSDOT fail to recognize the need for doing so the eastside legislators, rather than approving their request for adding 1-90 tolls, should use their oversight authority to insist on this action. Doing so will benefit the entire eastside. It’s way past time for them to stop kowtowing to ST and WSDOT demands and start representing their constituents.