WSDOT is preparing an environmental assessment of tolling on Interstate 90 and has scheduled three public meetings in January to help design the study and keep the public involved.
The environmental assessment study is intended to measure the effects tolling the I-90 corridor between I-5 and I-405 will have, according to a news release.
WSDOT says tolls are being considered to generate revenue to help fund replacement of the SR 520 floating bridge, which is vulnerable to sinking during a severe storm after weathering decades of wind and waves. I-90 tolling will also help alleviate congestion on I-90 giving travelers a safer, more reliable trip.
Commuters and communities are encouraged to get involved with the project design and study process by learning about the project and submitting comments.
What is an environmental assessment?
An environmental assessment is a study required as part of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to establish any influences, either positive or negative, about a potential project. By considering environmental effects and mitigation measures early, an EA supports better decision making and provides opportunities for public participation. The end result of the I-90 environmental assessment will be a report that consists of a technical evaluation and social and economic review of tolling on I-90.
The study aims to explain:
- why tolling on I-90 is being considered
- how it would be implemented
- how the proposed approach was developed
- how tolling would affect those who use I-90 and surrounding communities, including low-income populations
- other possible environmental effects such as land use, economics, energy and climate change
How can you get involved
The environmental assessment process provides an opportunity for citizens to be involved with decision making, have access to information about the study, and contact the project team so they can take information into account. Project scoping is an ideal time to provide input to the process; however community input is welcome at any time.
WSDOT Tolls Division spokesperson Colleen Gants said much of the input received from the public would guide the study and could have an impact on its conclusions.
"For example, we don't know yet where we would place the toll gantry," in the I-90 corridor, said Gants. "We are looking at that whole stretch of roadway."
The scoping period runs from Jan. 22 to Feb. 22, 2013, and comments can be made by contacting WSDOT Communications Specialist Michell Mouton at I90study@wsdot.wa.gov or by calling 206-464-1249.
Upcoming Public Meetings
- Mercer Island Community Center Jan. 29 (4pm-7pm) 8236 Southeast 24th Street Mercer Island, WA 98040
- Bellevue City Hall Jan. 30 (4pm-7pm) 450 110th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Yesler Community Center Jan. 31 (4pm-7pm) 917 East Yesler Way Seattle, WA 98122 (construction on East Yesler Way - please access parking from Washington St.)
(Ed. Note: The information in this article is taken from a WSDOT news release.)