[Update: This post initially stated that tolls on I-90 would only take effect if the speeds on I-90 fell by half during the first three months of tolling SR-520. In fact, tolls on I-90 would take effect if speeds on I-405 fell by half during any three consecutive months after tolling begins on SR-520. I’ve corrected the text below.]
State Representatives Ross Hunter, Deb Ebby, and Marko Liias introduced HB 2319 Monday. The bill would allow tolls to be applied to both the SR-520 span across Lake Washington and the I-90 span. The toll revenue would go to construction of a new, six-lane 520 bridge and the highway work on both sides of the water.
Tolls would only apply to the I-90 span if speeds in the I-405 corridor fall by half for a period of three months compared to the previous year or if the SR-520 tolls are raising less than 80% of the expected revenue. Tolls would be capped at $2.90 (2007 dollars) annually adjusted for inflation and would be variable based on the time of a day, a form of congestion pricing.
The SR-520 toll would take effect on January 1, 2010. By implementing variable tolling before the end of 2010, the region would receive $154mn in Federal grant money.
The bill is being offered as an alternative to HB 2211. That bill, offered by Rep. Clibborn who is chair of the transportation committee and represents Mercer Island, would not toll the I-90 span under any circumstances.
This blog has long asserted that it is necessary to toll both spans for to get the maximum amount of funding for the 520 bridge, to make sure that congestion isn’t simply redirected to I-90, and because we support the concept of congestion pricing as perhaps the singular model to reduce congestion. I-90 tolls shouldn’t be optional, they should be a feature of this bill. But this bill is much better than Clibborn’s version.