(A recent letter from the City of Mercer Island and their legal council to the WSDOT concerning the EIS about I-90 tolling prompted me to send their city council the following letter. I thought others might be interested so have posted it.)
Dear Mercer Island City Council
I’m no lawyer but the letter from the city's legal council to the WSDOT concerning the “scoping process” for the Environmental Impact Statement for I-90 tolling seems “deficient”. It deals only with expanding the “funding alternatives” to provide for construction of 520 and ignores the purported “environmental” reason for the tolls: reducing congestion on the I-90 Bridge.
Surely adding tolls to the I-90 Bridge will reduce congestion there by eliminating the incentive to avoid 520 tolls. I-90 tolls may further reduce congesting by inducing some commuters to use buses. These environmental improvements will far out weigh any increase in congestion from those choosing to go around the lake. Thus any rational “EIS” would likely favor I-90 tolls.
The funding alternatives in the letter are, to put it mildly, “highly speculative”. If Mercer Island officials want to avoid the tolls they should advocate for stopping East Link as detailed in my blog http://stopeastlinknow.blogspot.com. Doing so would provide more than enough funds to eliminate tolls on either bridge and cover unfunded portion of 520 rebuild. It would also avoid the congestion all cross-lake commuters will face if ST is allowed to close off I-90 Bridge center roadway for light rail.