New Bill Would Put Brakes on ODOT’s I-5, I-205 Tolling Plans

A new, bipartisan bill has been proposed in the Oregon Legislature that would put the brakes on the department of transportation’s tolling plans for Interstate 5 and 205.

If passed, the Oregon Department of Transportation would be barred from moving forward with its plans to establish tolling gantries in the Abernethy and Tualatin River bridge areas of I-205 as early as next fall.

In fact, the bill, Senate Bill 933, would prohibit the state from assessing any tolls on I-5 or I-205, with the exception of the I-5 bridge crossing the Columbia River, which both ODOT and the Washington Department of Transportation have long discussed replacing.

The bill would also force ODOT to conduct an analysis of “all reasonable alternative funding sources” for highway projects on the Abernethy, Tualatin River and Boone bridges and report its findings back to the Legislature by December 1.

The bill’s chief sponsors include Democratic Senator Mark Meek, of Gladstone, and Representatives Janelle Bynum, of Happy Valley, and Courtney Neron, of Wilsonville, as well as Republican Senator Daniel Bonham and Representative James Hieb, who represent Canby in the Oregon Senate and House.

The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee On Transportation. To read the text of SB 933, click here.

The state is also again seeking public input on its tolling plans via email and an ongoing environmental assessment on the potential project, with webinars planned for March 14 and 16 and a virtual public hearing on April 4.

Learn more about how you can weigh in on Clackamas County’s website.

The tolling proposal would add gantries to both Abernethy and the Tualatin River Bridge, with the amount varying from 50 cents to $2.20 based on time of day and other factors.

The plans have been deeply unpopular among both the general public and state and elected officials.

Online portals the state set up to collect feedback attracted nearly 5,000 comments — most of them in opposition — and an earlier presentation stunned the Canby City Council when ODOT representatives shared projections showing tolls could spike traffic on Highway 99E by up to 40%.

But ODOT officials have long insisted toll revenue is needed to complete improvements along a seven-mile stretch of I-205 from Stafford Road in West Linn to Highway 213 in Oregon City, including seismic upgrades that would make the Abernethy Bridge the state’s first earthquake-ready highway bridge across the Willamette River.

It would also fund the I-205 improvements Project from 99E to Highway 213, 10th Street to Sunset Bridge, Highway 43 to 10th Street, and 10th Street to Stafford Road, including reconstruction of the Tualatin River Bridge.

The project would also add a third to the only remaining two-lane section of I-205 and is anticipated to reduce crashes and cut daily congestion by more than four and a half hours. This bottleneck is currently one of the most congested in the state, with more than 100,000 vehicles passing through each day.

The tolls would run electronically, with sensors reading a small transponder attached to the windshield and bill a pre-paid account. If a vehicle doesn’t have a transponder, a camera will capture the car’s license plate, and the registered owner will receive an invoice in the mail.

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