In an effort to determine the potential effects of tolling on Interstate 90, the Washington State Department of Transportation is sending surveys to Mercer Island residents and businesses to learn about their driving habits.
Tolling began nearly two years ago on the State Route 520 bridge in order to pay for its replacement. But many drivers are still avoiding the span and taking I-90 or driving around Lake Washington instead. So, the state is looking at tolling on I-90 to help cover the rest of the cost of the new 520 bridge.
While some drivers between Seattle and Bellevue would have the option to skip I-90 to avoid the toll, people who live or work on Mercer Island would have no choice. I-90 is their only way on and off the island.
WSDOT leaders are considering free or discounted trips for people who live or work on Mercer Island. That’s what they hope the surveys will help them figure out.
The surveys will ask residents to record how many trips their household makes to Seattle and Bellevue each day between this Sunday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 23. A separate survey will go to businesses, schools and churches to get information on their employees, customers and vendors.
"We encourage people to accurately complete the survey to help us understand the potential effects proposed tolling options would have on those who live and work on the island,” said Craig Stone of WSDOT’s Toll Division.
WSDOT says it expects to release the results early next year.