Breaking News
More () »

Westbound I-90 at Mercer Island reopens after weekend closure for repairs

The WSDOT said crews will continue to work on the bridge as lanes began reopening Sunday afternoon.

SEATTLE — Westbound Interstate 90 at Mercer Island reopened Sunday afternoon after closing on Friday for expansion joint repairs.

The closure allowed Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) crews to repair an expansion joint that connects the Homer Hadley Bridge to the west side of Mercer Island.

The closures created significant traffic backups as travelers going to Seattle from the Eastside or Mercer Island were forced to use I-405 or pay a toll to use the State Route 520 Bridge. The closures also coincided with home games for the University of Washington football team on Saturday and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

With the forced detour, people wondered why the toll wasn’t waved along the SR 520 Bridge. The toll ranged between $1.25 and $6.30, depending on the time of day and whether the car had a GoodToGo pass.

>> Download KING 5+, our new Roku and Amazon Fire apps, to watch live coverage 24/7

The WSDOT put out several tweets stating it does not have the power to waive toll fees. That decision is left to the Washington State Transportation Commission.

The commission’s executive director, Reema Griffith, said there were no plans to suspend the toll.

"We have legal and financial commitments to meet that rely on tolls being regularly collected as planned. Tolling on 520 is also used to manage congestion on the bridge, in addition to collecting revenues,” Griffith said in an e-mail to KING 5.

During a Transportation Commission meeting in July, data from the treasurer showed the state isn’t in a financial position to wave tolls as forecasted revenue for the bridge dropped, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The forecast has been revised to show, let's call it a seven to 12 percent permanent change in forecasted revenues,” said Deputy State Treasurer Jason Richter.

The change applies to both the SR 520 Bridge and Highway 99 Tunnel. Richter said the tunnel will likely need legislative assistance as its deficit is growing into the millions, which is more than a toll increase can fix.

Richter said a toll increase on the SR 520 Bridge is likely in the next “two or so” years.

The WSDOT emphasized that travelers should expect to still see workers on I-90 even as the roadway reopened. Crews continued to remove barrels until about 5 p.m. Sunday.

Before You Leave, Check This Out