Washington seeks comment on I-90 toll plans

Feb. 13, 2013

With tolls now in place on the SR520 Lake Washington crossing Seattle to Redmond, Washington DOT is moving to measure support for tolling the second Lake crossing on I-90 from Seattle to Issaquah. The crossings are only 3.5 mi. apart and each links I-5 through Seattle with I-405 its twin north-south highway on the eastside of Lake Washington.

Unlike the SR520 bridge project, the plan on I-90 is not to replace the existing bridge but to use tolls to raise revenue for other improvements in the two corridors and to manage traffic with variable toll rates, according to Tollroad News

An I-90 Tolling Environmental Assessment has recently been launched by Washington State DOT (WSDOT) in response to a legislative resolution to:

  • Study non-toll financing and traffic management and if they aren't workable move for tolls on all lanes to start in 2016
  • Make use of variable tolls to improve traffic flow

At a minimum it seems likely there will be tolls on HOV lanes at the I-90 crossing. Legislators have called for WSDOT to get HOT or express toll lanes operating “as soon as practicable.”
The two Lake crossings are among the most heavily trafficked routes in the region. The crossing currently carries 160,000 to 200,000 vehicles a day and gets heavily congested on a daily basis.

The state is soliciting public comment on the toll proposals.

“The NEPA environmental assessment’s comment period gives us a chance to speak with people interested in the I-90 corridor, engaging I-90 drivers to ensure they are informed and have their voices heard. Scoping is an important first step in the environmental assessment process, so now’s the time to share your thoughts about I-90 tolling,” Craig Stone WSDOT director of tolls said in a statement.

To comment on the toll proposal go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/i90/onlinescoping

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Deborah Whistler

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