Letter: I-90 Bridge Toll Would Hurt Eastside Jewish Life

Interstate 90 is an important freeway linking important locations in Eastside Jewish life, writes Ilyse Wagner of Bellevue. Tolls would hit members of conservative synagogues particularly hard, she writes.

Growing up Jewish on Mercer Island, I often heard from others that it was a center of Jewish life in the Puget Sound area. I didn’t necessarily believe them but when I moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 1994 to get married and raise a family, I knew being part of a Jewish community was very important to me. There are two conservative synagogues in the Puget Sound area – one in Seattle and one on Mercer Island. There are two Jewish Community Centers (JCC) in the Puget Sound area – one in Seattle and one on Mercer Island. There are two large chain grocery stores with fresh Kosher meat in the Puget Sound area – one in Seattle and one on Mercer Island (and there is a second under development also on Mercer Island).  

Like so many others, I chose to live on the Eastside (in Bellevue along the I-90 corridor) specifically in order to have easy access to the center of Jewish life that exists on Mercer Island.  Over the past 10 years, I have commuted to Mercer Island at least ten times a week to get my children to and from childcare at the JCC.  I have commuted to Mercer Island at least eight times a week to get my children to and from Hebrew School at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation (HNT).  I have commuted to Mercer Island at least an additional six times a week to attend services at HNT, work out at the JCC, and buy Kosher food at the Albertsons on Mercer Island.  Tolling I-90 could make being an active member of the Eastside Jewish Community cost prohibitive.  It is incumbent upon the WSDOT to not restrict access to religious life.

Thank you,

Ilyse Wagner


Connie Carson February 13, 2013 at 05:59 AM
Bravo, Mr Jensen.
Publius February 13, 2013 at 06:24 AM
And if this was being used to support the I-90 facility I would agree with you. But it isn't and so that is THE fundamental problem.
Publius February 13, 2013 at 06:33 AM
Funny, I think a toll will make MI dis-advantaged despite the fact that it is a more 'eco-friendly' location. I moved to MI because it was central and had good access to both Seattle and Bellevue. Now if I am just going to get tolled, I might as well move out to where I can buy a nicer house with more land, lower taxes and just pay for the commute. I paid more for housing and will have to pay an additional tax just to go to the store or get medical care. You also fail to comprehend the larger commercial implications and the extra gas that will be burnt by trucks diverting around the 405. Your mentality is the problem.
Publius February 13, 2013 at 06:34 AM
ding ding ding! we have a winner!
Jerry Goldberg February 13, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Its not about her "religion" per se its about access for people. This is no different than people bringing up access to doctors, hospitals, an youth leagues; her only point is the tolling will penalize a group of people to whom commuting specifically to Mercer Island is necessary. There are many people who come to the many churches on the Island or unique businesees who likely have the same issues


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