Tolls on I-90 Bridge could cause divide between Eastside, Seattle

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BELLEVUE, Wash. -  

 The idea to toll the Interstate 90 Bridge has upset a lot of people, and there's concern that it could create a divide between the Eastside and Seattle.

 

In Bellevue Wednesday night, at the second of three Department of Transportation meetings, state staffers tried to communicate all the pros of tolling I-90.

 

People at the meeting pushed back, highlighting the cons.

 

“This ridiculous.  My family lives in Seattle. I’m basically going to have to pay to see my family.  This is ridiculous,” said Angelica Velasquez, who attended the meeting.

 

Many people at the meeting said they believe the tolls will turn two overlapping communities into two separate and distinct ones, pointing out that there’s a lot of money that goes from the Eastside to downtown Seattle businesses, and if a toll is put on the bridge, it could mean Seattle will lose that revenue.

 

“I think that having this toll is going to create this chasm between the two economies,” said attendee Liz Blaszcak.

 

The tolls have not been set or approved yet, but using the 520 bridge tolls as a model, it would cost a daily commuter $3.59 to cross the bridge during peak toll times, or $900 per year.

 

  Some might avoid the bridge to save money.

 

“We also know we're going to have a lot more people going down through Renton potentially,” said Craig Stone with the WSDOT.

 

Those who choose to skirt the tolls will still pay more for the commute.

 

It’s about 10 miles on I-90 from Factoria to downtown Seattle, but driving around to the south instead tacks on 13 more miles.

 

The extra mileage for a car that gets 25 mpg would cost about $422 a year at today's gas prices and put an extra 3,200 miles on vehicle.

 

Many people at the Bellevue meeting said they would avoid the toll simply by not driving on I-90, and said people in Seattle could do the same, making a wedge between the two communities.

 

A third public meeting about the tolls is being held Thursday at the Yesler Community Center from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.