Craig Stone, the Toll Division director for WSDOT, presented at Monday's City Council meeting, explaining some of the background on the project.
"The key here is we're at the beginning of a process that will be include a very extended public outreach," said Stone
"Then I think a major policy decision will have to be made."
After a year of tolling on State Route 520 and seeing how traffic patterns and thus revenue have changed, the state will need to find approximately $1.404 billion to finish the SR 520 bridge construction.
A majority of the project has been funded by state and federal dollars, as well as grants and money coming from the tolls on SR-520, but the portion of the bridge on the western side of Lake Washington and the I-5 to Montlake area is unfunded, equaling around $1.4 billion.
outlined that since tolling on SR-520 has gone into place, traffic on I-90 has increased 11 percent, while traffic on SR-520 has dropped approximately 33 percent.
Traffic along other routes around Lake Washington, such as SR-522, have also increased.
"The environmental assessment will provide information to make sure everything has been considered and is part of the information gathering process," said Stone
"We really want to make sure people understand what all the options are."
The discussion to toll I-90 is two fold.
The tolls would help stabilize traffic patterns, returning cars to SR-520, as well as I-90, while also generating funds needed to pay for the remaining portion of SR-520 construction.
said the general outline is to have a transportation analysis complete in June 2013, followed by a public hearing sometime in November 2013, with findings possibly published in early 2014.
Should the state legislature decide to implement tolls on the bridge or bridges across Mercer Island
it would likely take another year of construction and preparation to get things up and running, setting the earliest date for tolls on I-90 in early 2015.
"We realize this is a major decision," said Stone