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Proposed Tolls Draw Criticism

Proposed Tolls Draw Criticism
As ODOT mulls over tolling, many have concerns.
  • Post category:news

The Oregon Department of Transportation has proposed placing tolls on certain freeways in and around Portland. Officials intend for the tolls to help reduce congestion and encourage the use of public transportation. However, many Oregonians say that the proposal needs to help expand access to those services. Otherwise, the tolls may just punish ordinary Oregonians.

What tolls has ODOT proposed?

ODOT wants to place tolls on major freeways only. So far, that just means I-205 and I-5 in and around Portland. The south end of I-205, namely the section right before the I-5 interchange, is the first portion of highway that would see tolling. Tolls on I-5 would be next, and that could start as far south as Wilsonville.

Why does ODOT want to start tolling these freeways? There are two major reasons for the change: funding and congestion. The funds from the tolls would go towards other improvement projects that the state is working on. The tolls on I-205, if approved, will fund a bridge widening project near Stafford Road. The I-5 toll funds would likely go towards a new Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River.

A key part of the proposal is that ODOT plans to impose congestion pricing on the tolls. This means that during peak hours, such as the early morning and late afternoon, the cost of the tolls will increase. This, officials say, will discourage driving during these times, reducing congestion for those who are willing to pay the toll. It will also reduce greenhouse emissions, especially for those who live in the vicinity of the freeways.

Notably, ODOT officials have also said that the proposal is not just for the Portland area. Other Oregon metro areas, like Eugene and Salem, could be next for tolling, depending on how well they work. Of course, that also depends on whether the tolls are even implemented.

What do Oregonians think?

Comments on the proposed tolls are being accepted through September 15. However, preliminary concerns have already been raised by groups ranging from local communities to interstate business interests.

Local communities have concerns about the impact the tolls could have on city roads. They have claimed that the tolls could push traffic onto surface streets, putting strain on those roads. Others have concerns that the state’s public transit options are insufficient to try and push people off of the freeways.

Nonresidents have raised concerns about the proposal too. Their main concern is that the tolls are on major interstate highways, especially I-5. These freeways receive a lot of traffic from Washingtonians and Californians, who would now pay for projects whose benefits they don’t receive.

Needless to say, visible taxation projects like this one are controversial. It remains to be seen what will happen with Oregon’s toll proposals at this time.

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