Who's More Ga Ga for Tolls: O'Brien or Rosencrantz?

City Council Candidate Mike O'Brien is fighting back against a hit mailer that claims he wants to put tolls on all Seattle streets. "Have you looked at the video of Robert?" he asks, calling SW by phone while biking downtown. He's referring to a video of opponent Robert Rosencrantz being interviewed by the enviro group Friends of Seattle. In it, Rosencrantz--just like O'Brien during his interview with the group--expresses support for tolls. "It is a good idea: corridor tolling system-wise is something we're going to have to have," Rosencrantz says. He emphasizes the point later: "Tolls, great. System-wise, yes."

O'Brien says he finds it strange that Rosencrantz would send out the attack piece when "his positions...are pretty much identical to mine." And he notes that Rosencrantz told him and several reporters yesterday morning, after this seeming contradiction was pointed out to him, that he was going to take tolls off the table as a campaign issue.

But, today, Rosencrantz says "the issue is back on the table" after a KUOW interview in which O'Brien challenged him on the hit mailer. Rosencrantz says he is happy to point out that their views are, in fact, different. He maintains that he only supports tolls on major state roads like State Route 520 and I-90, while O'Brien told Seattle Channel interviewer C.R. Douglas earlier this month that he supports tolls on city streets (start a little after minute 13 on the video).

O'Brien continues to say that he would consider tolling city streets (which are, after all, the only streets which City Council has the power to toll) but only those in danger of becoming congested by people looking to avoid tolls on state and federal roads. "If at some point in the future, there's tolling on I-5 and drivers hop off at Northgate to take Greenwood [Avenue] to get downtown, there's a case where I would be willing to look at tolling [Greenwood]."

Tolling Greenwood? And I-5? Maybe O'Brien is more infatuated with tolls than Rosencrantz. Even so, it seems clear that this region is headed for lots of tolls whoever is elected.

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