Tim Eyman today turned in what he says are 327,000 signatures in support of an initiative that would restrict tolls in Washington.
It’s likely enough to ensure voters decide on I-1125. The initiative would call for ending tolls on a project when construction is paid off, and requiring tolls to stay at the same price all day rather than rising and falling with traffic as they do on Route 167’s toll lanes.
His measure would also buttress existing state laws and constitutional provisions that:
- keep tolls on one road or bridge from being used to pay for another project.
- prevent highway lanes paid for with gas taxes from being converted to rail.
- call for the Legislature, not the appointed Transportation Commission, to set tolls.
A opposition coalition is coalescing that former Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald said would be similar to those in campaigns that defeated a couple of Eyman’s previous transportation initiatives — including unions, business groups and environmentalists.
MacDonald said the initiative would keep the state from upgrading its infrastructure.
Costs don’t end when construction is paid off on a project like the Tacoma Narrows bridge, MacDonald said: it still needs money for maintenance and operations. Under Eyman’s initiative, those costs would have to be paid by gas taxes like other roads; Eyman says the state gets hooked on toll money and wants to keep it even once it’s no longer needed for its original purpose.
MacDonald said variable tolls that change based on time of day or traffic levels make roads more efficient; Eyman says they’re an attempt to change drivers’ behavior, not raise more money as tolls should be doing.