Friday, November 30, 2007

’Tis the season

An effort in Washington state expected to draw consideration during the 2008 regular legislative session could lead to truckers and other drivers reaching into their wallets more often while traveling in the state.

Key legislators at the statehouse say charging a fee to highway users isn’t too far down the road. They want to advance legislation to the governor that would create a framework for collecting tolls.

The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge already is tolled. A new Highway 520 floating bridge between Seattle and Bellevue would also be tolled.

Transportation leaders at the capitol predict tolling to be more widespread in the state’s not-to-distant future. They cite Puget Sound voters’ rejection on Election Day for a massive roads and transit funding measure.

Senate Transportation chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen and House Transportation chairwoman Judy Clibborn are drafting legislation for consideration during the session that begins Jan. 14 that would give the state Legislature authority to impose tolls on unspecified roads and bridges. An appointed panel would set the rates that could continue to be collected after a project is paid off.

This should be a reminder for voters everywhere that it is never a bad time to pick up a phone, pen a letter, or type on your keyboard a message to your elected officials about your thoughts on issues of importance to you.

It is a good idea to spend a few moments now chatting with your lawmakers before the hustle and bustle that accompanies the new legislative year when legislators have different things thrown their way all day every day. Give them something to think about now so they can remember it when discussion at the capitol turns to the topic.