Washington state ballot initiative would restrict tolls

| 8/5/2011

Voters in Washington state will be able to cast ballots this fall on an initiative to restrict tolls.

The November statewide ballot will include an initiative about whether to prevent tolls on one roadway from being used on a different road. Approval by voters would put an end to talk about potential tolls on Interstate 90 from being used on the state Route 520 construction project.

Also included is a requirement that tolls end on a road or bridge once the project’s construction is paid off, such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Variable toll rates that depend on the time of day truckers and other drivers use the road or bridge would also be outlawed. The pay plan is used on the state Route 167 high-occupancy toll lanes.

This spring state lawmakers approved the pay structure for the 520 bridge to pay for a replacement crossing.

Initiative 1125 is also intended to eliminate any loophole in statute that could be found to divert fuel taxes and tolls for light rail. There is discussion about adding rail on the Interstate 90 floating bridge, a new 520 bridge and a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Another provision would require legislative approval for each project, as well as make lawmakers solely responsible for setting toll rates.

Tolls are set by the state transportation commission, whose members are appointed by the governor.

Tim Eyman, a noted advocate in the state for anti-tax measures, said elected officials should be solely responsible for making such decisions because they must answers to voters.

Opponents say 1125 threatens vital transportation projects and economic growth throughout the state.

OOIDA encourages Washington state truckers to make sure they are registered and to be sure and cast ballots on Nov. 8.

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