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Oregon Might Not Be Ready For Tolling
Tolling decision will be made in 2023

More than 4,600 people and organizations from Oregon and Washington helped kick-off the I-205 Toll Project by giving input on the draft project's purpose, including tolling scenarios and ways to implement tolls.

The 75-day comment period marked the beginning of the environmental review process as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The feedback illustrated the need for more public engagement.

"Clearly there is more work to do," said Lucinda Broussard, Oregon Toll Program Director. "The comments we received from the community demonstrate the confusion around this type of tolling, which makes sense considering this has never been done before in Oregon."

The proposed project would toll all lanes of Interstate 205 near the Abernethy Bridge to raise revenue, improve travel reliability and manage congestion. The revenue could help pay for highway improvements along the corridor. Tolls would be collected electronically without toll booths to keep traffic moving.

The primary method used to provide comments was an online survey. Based on survey data, about half of respondents live in Clackamas County and rely on I-205 for multiple trips a week. Like other demographic groups, people most affected by a potential toll expressed the greatest concerns.

"We've seen at the beginning of other toll projects how community support starts low," Broussard said. "With so many unknowns, it's easy to understand why no one wants to pay more for travel."

The most frequently mentioned comments focused on: Respondents offered numerous suggestions on how impacts of tolls could be lessened. Suggestions included toll discounts, improved transit, and maintaining the choice of a toll-free route.

"We appreciate all the specific suggestions and will continue to work with the community to create a system that works for us in Oregon," Broussard said.

Over the next two months, ODOT and the Federal Highway Administration will consider all the comments. ODOT will publish a response for how the public comments will be addressed in early 2021.

The next steps for the project include conducting a detailed analysis of the benefits and impacts of tolling. The results of this analysis will be published for public review in a draft Environmental Assessment in 2022. A final decision is expected in 2023. Tolling on I‑205 would not begin before 2024.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-05 19:29:27Last Update: 2020-12-05 19:59:02

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