Mercer Island residents may get break on I-90 tolls

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Residents of Mercer Island could get a break from the proposed tolls on Interstate 90.

Lawmakers are discussing the issue Wednesday in Olympia.

Most residents of the island have made it clear that they don't want any tolls on the bridge.

 They may not get their wish, but Wednesday’s hearing is evidence that their pleas are reaching the ears of the Legislature.

Earlier this month, islanders told their city councilmembers to stand firm against the tolls.

The state is moving toward I-90 tolls because the rebuild of the State Route 520 bridge needs more than $1 billion in funding.

But most Mercer Islanders say they shouldn't have to pay because the I-90 Bridge is their only way off the island to access the critical services of shopping, hospitals and emergency services.

The Legislature doesn't seem ready to abandon tolls for Mercer Island residents entirely, but the House Transportation Committee will discuss a bill that would give Mercer Islanders a break.

The bill would force the Department of Transportation to explore options to ease the financial burden, especially to get one way over the bridge for free.  

The House Transportation Committee takes up the toll relief proposal at 1:30 p.m.