Washington State Seeks to Toll I-90; Lawmaker Questions Legality

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is seeking to toll Interstate 90 under the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Value Pricing Pilot Program, which allows the tolling of existing interstates for projects testing innovative ways to alleviate congestion. But already Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) is questioning the authority of the federal government to authorize such a plan.

In a letter to incoming Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx, Rep. Reichert raised concerns about the potential impacts that tolling I-90 would have on commerce as well as its potential to set an influential precedent for states nationwide seeking funds for transportation projects. Furthermore, Rep. Reichert questioned whether tolling I-90 would be a misuse of the pilot program’s authority because WSDOT’s primary purpose for tolling I-90 is to pay for a state highway bridge, rather than to mitigate congestion.

Tolling existing lanes on interstates is prohibited by federal law, except under tolling pilot programs created by Congress.

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