Frustration at first of three public meetings over proposed I-90 toll

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 8:20 PM

There was frustration at the Mercer Island Community Center Tuesday at the first of three public meetings on a proposed toll on Interstate 90.

There was frustration over the toll and frustration over how the meeting went.

The meeting room was at capacity - someone would have to leave before anyone else was allowed in. People came expecting to sit down and take turns speaking at the microphone - a give and take. That wasn't what happened. In fact, many felt the public meeting wasn't as advertised.

It's wasn’t so much what was being said, but what couldn't be heard, because what many thought would be a public forum with an opportunity to be heard... wasn't.

“It's a format that's worked very, very well, it's not confrontational, the intent really is to get to the questions,” said Craig Stone, WSDOT Asst. Sec., Toll Division

“I think they need to give people an opportunity and a different forum to speak because I think a lot of people at this point are frustrated,” said Terry Coe, Mercer Island resident.

Instead WSDOT chose an open house forum. It ended up being an exercise in crowd control. Yet those who came remain determined.

“(Tolling) would mean we'd put our house on the market and we would leave … after 32 years because it’s double taxation, and we are isolated here, we have no other way. We can't swim, we can't fly,” said Mercer Island resident Claus Jensen.

Any decision on a toll is at least a year away, and still subject to federal approval since it is an interstate.

It's all on the table - from one way tolls to tolling all the way from Seattle to North Bend.

Meetings will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bellevue City Hall and Thursday at the Yesler Community Center in Seattle.

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