The other day I got in US mail a flier from NoTollOnI90.org. The state is considering tolling I-90 to pay for reconstruction of the SR520 bridge over Lake Washington.
The NoTollOnI90.org organization has a Mercer Island P.O. Box. I live in Bellevue. So they obviously spent a lot of money to distribute the flier to lots of people.
The flier states that tolling is being considered on I-90 all the way out to North Bend, and it claims that it could cost up to $4.35 each way to cross Lake Washington by 2016. Tolling is being considered too for I-5 and SR-520 to Redmond. Tolling for I-405 is also a (more remote) possibility, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation website.
The flier and the NoTollOnI90.org website mention that an increase in the gas tax is being another option for raising funds for highway construction. Indeed, Washington lawmakers to propose 10-cent gas-tax hike reports:
Last week, a group of more than 40 mayors from around the state, including Mike McGinn of Seattle and Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and to legislative leaders urging them to pass an 8-cent increase to the gas tax. The mayors said more than $3 billion is needed to maintain roadways and bridges in the state over the next 10 years.
In order to be passed into law, the tax hike would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate, or it would have to be passed by a vote of the people.
A gas tax might be more palatable to residents of Mercer Island (where House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn lives) and to people who drive on I-90. But it’s unlikely that people in eastern Washington would be in favor of seeing their gas tax raised for the sake of bridge construction near Seattle.
As a bus and bike rider who rarely drives my car, and as a progressive environmentalist, I’m all in favor of various taxes and fees to discourage people from using their cars. But I understand that gas taxes and tolls are regressive. Far better to eliminate tax breaks and establish a high earners’ income tax (say, on capital gains or financial transactions).
Most of my coworkers drive to work. They seem hostile to the idea of both tolls and taxes. And buses take too long, they say.
Already our cities are ugly and nearly unlivable due to traffic, noise, and stench from vehicular traffic. Maybe we’re all doomed. Eventually, gridlock, pollution, and climate change may destroy civilization. Opposition to taxes, public transportation, and the common good will make society cruel, our citizens uneducated, and our communities ugly.
The website for http://www.notolloni90.org/ reports the following meetings relevant to tolling:
Mercer Island City Council Meeting on Monday, Feb. 25th at 7pm with a Study Session at 6pm before the meeting. The city’s response to the Environmental Assessment will be discussed
Find out how Representative Judy Clibborn proposes to mitigate the impact of tolling I-90 Meeting: Feb 27th, 2013, 1:30PM. House Hearing Rm B, John L. O’Brien Building, Olympia, WA.
Re: House Bill 1945. Click here to see Bill.
According to http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=notolloni90.org, the owner of http://www.notolloni90.org/ is Eva Zemplenyi of Kirkland.