For Whom the State Tolls: ODOT Collecting Feedback on Possible Tolling of I-5 and 205

Here’s some news that will be news to no one: We have a congestion problem on Portland metro area’s freeways.

Between 2015 and 2017, the number of congested hours each day rose by 13 percent on Interstate 5 and I-205.

Each day, more than 100,000 drivers travel I-205 between Stafford Road and Highway 213, experiencing — and causing — five and a half hours of congestion. For its part, I-5 carries the highest number of vehicles and freight in the region.

And the situation is only getting worse.

ODOT’s 2018 Traffic Performance Report estimates that by 2040, there will be a 35 percent increase in population and 1.8 million more vehicular trips per weekday traveling in or through the region.

In response, ODOT is considering the possibility of tolling on I-5 and I-205.

The state transportation agency is currently soliciting input on the 205 tolling proposal.

This project would toll all lanes of I-205 on or near the Abernethy Bridge to both improve congestion and raise revenue. Revenue generated by these tolls could help fund the planned widening and seismic strengthening of I-205 between Stafford Road and OR 213 including the Abernethy Bridge.

This section is the only two-lane segment on I-205. The survey will be available through April 24. It will be provided in English and Spanish and can be completed via smart phone, tablet or laptop.

The more people who respond to the survey, the more precise the results will be. Participants who complete the survey can also enter for a chance to win a $100 cash gift card.

ODOT will conduct another survey in the future to gather similar information about I-5.

ODOT says the goal of both projects is to “manage congestion and generate revenue to fund bottleneck relief projects,” as directed by the Oregon Legislature in House Bill 2017, a $5.3 billion transportation package that was also known as the Keep Oregon Moving Bill.

The bill also directed the Oregon Transportation Commission to implement congestion pricing, also known as variable rate tolls, on I-5 and I-205 in the Portland metro region to provide additional traffic management tools to further manage congestion.

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