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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

For Whom the Bridge Tolls

Posted by on June 20 at 11:56 AM

The Washington State Transportation Commission is inviting the public to “hear and be heard” on the issue of tolls on certain roads and bridges, including I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass and the 520 floating bridge. Want to weigh in? You’ll have to trek to Mercer Island, the site of the commission’s only “Central Puget Sound” forum. Hmmm… I wonder what diverse views on tolling a community of car owners who live on an island accessible only by bridge will have to offer?

(Thanks to: Seth K.)

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520=Yes. Until it's paid for. Just like before.

Snoqualmie=No. There is no exit strategy for that one. Just like Iraq.

tolls on every road! any other system is untenable.

No problem with bridges. Bridges should be tolled until they are paid for (but ONLY until they are paid for. Washington State is very sneaky about collecting tolls long after their point. Check out the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for more info...)

But what the hell re: i-90?? Fuck that. You're not exactly taxing commuters for not taking mass transit when you place a toll on crossing a freeway in the middle of nowhere. That's bullshit. What's the argument? Snowplows are expensive? That's what taxes are for.

Enough with the M.I. bashing. You don't have to "trek"'s 3 freakin' minutes away from downtown. Sure a lot of them own cars (which makes them--gasp!--just like most people in Seattle, Capitol Hill hipsters notwithstanding), but many, many people in M.I. bus back and forth to downtown for work and only use cars to get around the island. It's a very mass transit-friendly, liberal-minded place. Have you ever spent more than 10 minutes there? I'll shut up now...I'm just tired of people equating the politics of Mercer Island with those of the Eastside. Entirely different.

Matthew said what I've been feeling for a long time. I grew up on Mercer Island (no, my parents were not rich, this was a loooong time ago).

It misses the point of your post, but yeah, shut up about Mercer Island already. Are you a really such a child? You can get to Mercer Island in half the time it takes to get to Ballard. I should know: I live in Ballard, and none of my capitol hill friends can ever imagine coming "all the way over" to any of my get-togethers.

Fuck tolls. I have no faith any promise made by any level of government in this state will actually be kept (for example, that the toll will come off when the bridge is paid for. Sure it will - just like the seat belt law was originally passed with the promise that it would never be the initial reason a cop could pull you over.)

ECB's general point is spot on and WSDOT is good at it: limited and inaccessible public "involvement." She wasn't slamming MI, but criticizing WSDOT for not having more meetings in more places on an issue that will effect many folks.

I agree with the "pay until it's paid off" folks...but reach Sean's conclusion with that same logic: it ain't EVER paid off, hence we need permanent tolls or some dedicated revenue for infrastructure that we all directly or indirectly rely on. Current tax revenue is nowhere near enough, is declining, and the structure is not necessarily fair. So if you're going to talk about temporary tolls, let's talk about increasing other dedicated revenue...or, better yet, reducing use (and thus the need for expensive maintenance) of freeway infrastructure.

Kids, when you hear the traffic reporters on the radio talk about "the old toll plaza" on the 520, that's what it means - it's the OLD toll plaza. They stopped charging toll when it was paid for.

...but it might have taken a lawsuit to get them to stop. My memory is fuzzy.

Hey ATNAS, I don't know about 520, but it definitely took a lawsuit for the above referenced Narrows. All too typical of Washington State taxation on its citizens.

And Smiles, are you kidding me? Road projects "ain't EVER paid off"?? Math isn't my strong point, but turns out that local governments pay off their road projects all the time. Sometimes, years and years after they have been paid off, the citizens have to sue for the privelege of not paying for paid-off projects, even.

Repeat after me, child:

taxes pay for road maintenance
taxes pay for road maintenance
taxes pay for road maintenance

New roads equal new taxes (they actually don't, but I'm tryin' to keep it simple...). Exisiting roads are paid for with existing taxes.

The problem comes down to our unfair method of taxation and our STUPID citizens who won't even consider a state income tax.

Go ahead - say your dreary "we'll have a state income tax over my dead body" and all the other crap that the morons say when the topic comes up. Just know that the rich people who pretty much get a free ride in this state on YOUR back are laughing at you.

Yes, the road is paid for, but it's now in need of repairs--maybe replacement. Who's going to pay for the repairs...shouldn't it be the people who use the bridge?

Mercer Islanders are lovely people--nothing against them (I'm not sure why the commenters here are so defensive). But MI folks chose to live on an island. Surely they can't expect the rest of the state's taxpayers to subsidize that choice.

Westy--You chant it enough and it may magically come true, but current tax revenue is not enough to cover infrastructure maintenance. I'm not sure it's math that you're not good at; rather, it's accounting. And, hey, you'll pay no matter what through tolls, taxes, or increased wear and tear to your car.

For their tolling Open House tomorrow night, I went to WSDOT's "how to get there" link on their Web site, and it connected to Mapquest. No connection/clue re how to get there on transit; had to find that without WSDOT's help.

The SR-520 bridge tolls were ended when the bonds were paid off, just as they have been with all the other bridges in this state that were paid for in part with revenue bonds. I defy anyone to cite a case to the contrary, where tolls continued after construction debt was paid. Hard examples please, not Imanesque rants.

So long as they have two or more transit and HOV lanes with ZERO tolls, and the tolls only apply to non-HOV usage, go for it!

P.S.: No tolls for bicycles or motorbikes.

A toll on Snoqualmie Pass is really stupid, given that transponder technology will be pretty much useless on any route that most people travel once a year.

Do you look forward to pass traffic stopping on a snowy uphill grade to drop your coins in the booth (btw - even with transponders, there will always be some people who have to stop and pay cash).

"For Whom the Bridge Tolls"

Best headline ever.

oh, sorry, I didn't mean tolls on Snoqualmie, just Mercer Island.

and any vehicles using the HOV to get to Mercer Island that aren't HOV (e.g. single driver) should pay a toll as well.

"For Whom the Bridge Tolls"

Best headline ever.

Yeah, how'd you come up with that?

Oh burn! Flagrant headline theft!

Whoa, Dan. I didn't steal your headline, unless it was subconscious... Anyway, you know what they say about imitation!

Yeah yeah, great minds... Anyway it wasn't my headline as I can't write one to save my life. It was our Amy's.

A toll on 520 is just plain dumb! The only way tolls work is if it's really hard to take another route (see Tacoma Narrows).

In the case of 520, however, you end up with a rather nice, uncongested roadway for rich folks to drive on and put more traffic on I-90, I-405, and Lake City Way to get over and around the Lake.

Mick, it would take most people an extra hour or two one way to get where they were going if they wanted to bypass 520. Would that be worth not paying $3 one way or whatever it would cost, or not taking transit instead? And not to mention all the gas it would waste and the wear it would cause their vehicles, which would, at the least, cost said citizens just as much in the long run.

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