Letters to the Editor

The hidden toll of tolling the 520 bridge

Bothell Way (State Route 522) is a critical transportation corridor for north King County residents. However, it is congested, demand for park-and-ride spaces exceeds capacity and buses are crowded. With the state considering tolling the State Route 520 bridge, the transportation situation along Bothell Way might get worse. If tolled, many commuters will bypass the bridge and use alternate routes, particularly Bothell Way, to avoid paying the toll.

Tolling means more traffic on Bothell Way, longer commute times for north King County residents, and higher road maintenance costs. These are the hidden tolls of tolling, which is why proper mitigation efforts are critical.

The 520 Tolling Implementation Committee has been tasked with studying the impact that tolling on the 520 bridge will have on Bothell Way. The committee will make recommendations to the governor and legislature in January regarding what mitigation measures should be taken on Bothell Way if tolling is implemented.

In late July, the committee released an initial analysis that forecasts the potential impacts on Bothell Way traffic. The analysis showed four tolling scenarios, and applied toll rates ranging from under $1 up to $3.80 during peak hours. After receiving the analysis, we provided feedback to the committee regarding the need for specific mitigation measures.

Our recommendations include increased transit service, new and improved park-and-ride facilities and the completion of scheduled infrastructure improvements. Specifically, our requests include:

Bus Rapid Transit service on SR 522 that will provide service at least every five minutes during the peak periods and every 15 minutes during off-peak periods. Additional transit capacity down Interstate 405 is needed, as well.

New and improved park-and-ride and transit parking facilities, which would complement downtown redevelopment plans.

Prior to any tolling, complete scheduled improvements along SR 522.

Improve capacity on other routes, such as state routes 202 and 527, Juanita Drive and the Woodinville-Duvall Road. These corridors will need substantial improvements to mitigate tolling impacts.

Your perspective is also important to this process. Through Aug. 31, citizens have the opportunity to provide input to the committee about needed traffic-mitigation measures along this corridor. Comments can be submitted by accessing the committee’s Web site at HYPERLINK “http://www.build520.org/choices.htm” http://www.build520.org/choices.htm, or mailed to Tolling Implementation Committee, c/o Puget Sound Regional Council, 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98104-1035.

We encourage all of you to take an active role in shaping the future use of Bothell Way.

Bob Ferguson represents District One on the King County Council; David Baker is the mayor of Kenmore; Mark Lamb is the mayor of Bothell; Scott Hageman is the mayor of Woodinville; and Dave Hutchinson is the mayor of Lake Forest Park.

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