Tolling of the Interstate 90 is inching toward reality, with the Washington State Department of Transportation saying that it is continuing to investigate whether to implement tolls on the floating bridge.
For the past year, drivers in the Seattle metro area have had a clear choice: Jump on the state route 520 bridge where heavy tolls await, or bypass those fees altogether for the sometimes more congested and longer drives of southerly route along Interstate 90.
The tolling of both bridges could have a serious impact on the region’s tech community (not to mention individual’s pocketbooks) since thousands of people commute each way over one of the two bridges. (For those not familiar with Seattle’s geography, Lake Washington splits Seattle from the Eastside suburbs where companies such as Expedia, Microsoft, Concur and Apptio are based).
The state has collected more than $50 million in gross revenue since the electronic tolling program went into effect on the 520 bridge a year ago, but it needs more funds.
Now, folks will have their chance to sound off on the plan to bring tolls to I-90, with public meetings slated for this week in Bellevue, Seattle and Mercer Island. The meetings will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. — the first taking place at the Mercer Island Community Center tonight. On Wednesday, the meeting will be held at Bellevue City Hall, while Thursday’s meeting will take place on Yesler Community Center in Seattle.
The last time we wrote about this issue, folks had a lot to say in the comment threads of GeekWire. One reader called tolls “cowardly governance.”
“If the State was charging a couple quarters it might not be such a big deal, but the State charges $3.59 at rush hour. If you’re a commuter this is a painful regressive tax,” the reader wrote. Another reader suggested that all the “yuppies and coders can just LIVE where they WORK” if they don’t want to deal with tolls.
Obviously, this is a hot-button issue for the tech community, especially with big employers like Amazon and Microsoft having workforces split between both sides of the lake. Maybe we’ll see more companies following the path of Google and Tableau — both of which offer dual operations on either side of the lake.
Here’s more from our media partner KING 5:
Previously on GeekWire: Is the free ride over on I-90? State to consider tolls on second floating bridge