Kotek tells ODOT: Scrap regional tolling plans

(Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This just in via The Oregonian:

Gov. Tina Kotek on Monday announced her intention to halt plans to toll Portland-area freeways, citing uncertainty about the costs of planned freeway projects and the revenue tolling would bring in.

So just like that, a plan that’s been seven years in the making is kaput.

The Oregon Department of Transportation was tasked with developing a toll program for Portland-area freeways by the legislature as part of the 2017 statewide funding package. That effort became known as the Regional Mobility Pricing Project. According to ODOT, the RMPP would, “toll I-5 and I-205 in the Portland metropolitan region,” and that, “Tolling is part of ODOT’s long-term strategy to help pay for transportation improvements and provide faster, more efficient trips through the Portland metro region.”

As ODOT plodded along on what would have been a transformative step in how freeway projects are funded, pushback began to build. In January 2023 we outlined some of the very real political problems ODOT’s tolling plan faced. Then four months later, Governor Kotek ordered a pause on the plan.

As if tolls weren’t unpopular enough on their own, ODOT’s widespread lack of trust among everyday Oregonians and lawmakers made tolling almost an impossible dream. The agency had pegged toll revenue as a must-have for its own solvency and now will either have to change what kind of projects they build (unlikely) or find a new way to fund them. With a major transportation funding package on the horizon at the legislature in 2025, we’ll likely find out their new strategy soon.

On the social media platform X today, noted ODOT critic City Observatory posted:

R.I.P. Regional Mobility Pricing: Born: 2017, Died 11 March 2024. People only want more road capacity if somebody else pays for them. Mourned by: economists. Survived by the $622 million I-205 Abernethy Bridge, now to be paid for, not by those who use it, but “somebody else.”

Read The Oregonian for the full story.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Fred
Fred
1 month ago

WTF, Tina??!!

But no toll revenue means no more $$$ for freeway-widening and other projects, amirite? Or will we just raid the general fund, as they did for the I-5 bridge?

If this is Tina’s plan for ending freeway projects, I’m okay with it.

If she is just sucking up to car-centric voters, I am not okay with it.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

They didn’t raid the general fund for the I-5 bridge, at least not yet. (They authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds, but when this has been done in the past, they’ve been repaid out of ODOT’s budget).

I share your hope that this is the beginning of the end. But regardless of result, Kotek is 100% sucking up to car-centric voters, just like her desire to expand UGBs around Oregon.

J_R
J_R
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

What is your evidence that the state’s general fund has been used for the I-5 bridge or any other road or highway project?

J_R
J_R
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

There’s nothing in the article suggesting there were general funds allocated to the I-5 bridge project. The legislature also approves the ODOT budget, which relies primarily on gas tax, weight mile taxes, registration fees, and federal grants.

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Tina has long tried to jam the CRC through in the past, no one should be surprised by this.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Spot on obit by City Observatory. ODOT, and transportation/transportation funding in the Portland metro region is absolutely broken. Best of luck everyone!

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago

Where will the money come from?

Bonds that Oregon residents, including ***CAR FREE*** cyclists, will underwrite with their taxes.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

Paid for, no doubt, with state taxes on hard drugs, marijuana, Doritos, and Pepsi.

Pkjb
Pkjb
1 month ago

Their property taxes and income taxes, and those of their children.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Pkjb

The state doesn’t collect property taxes.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

You may be car-free, Will, but you still benefit greatly from the transportation infrastructure (everything you use or buy comes to your house or to a store via the roads).

A healthy system includes EVERYONE. The problem with funding anything nowadays is that everyone wants to opt out and get others to pay.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

But almost nothing I buy is transported by people driving alone in their car or other private motor-vehicle, which is exactly the case we’re subsidizing here.

everyone wants to opt out and get others to pay

Funny, you’re describing exactly the situation we’re in where motorists don’t want to pay their share of the cost for the roads they use.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

In the past, the state issued general obligation bonds, but ODOT paid them back from their budget. Why do you think this time will be different?

JaredO
JaredO
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Have you looked at ODOT’s budget lately? They’re mortgaged to the hilt, they can’t maintain their existing facilities, they’re getting bailed out with millions of general funds just to plow the roads.

They also have a structural problem that their funding relies mostly on the gas tax – something that’s decreasing. The federal gas tax is frozen, and losing value due to inflation and electrification.

So there’s zero evidence they have any resources to redirect to support repaying GO bonds.

Where do you think they’ll get the money to do so?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  JaredO

You raise good points. I agree ODOT is in a bind, and I don’t know how we’re going to fund operations moving forward. I don’t think anyone does.

We’re entering a period of transition, and things are going to start changing quickly.

bntyjr
bntyjr
1 month ago

This would be great if the outcome was to axe all of the freeway expansion projects. But come on, we all know Gov Kotek is going to make sure those move forward. Also pretty darn certain that nothing is going to happen on raising gas taxes or implementing vmt charges for those who don’t purchase liquid transportation fuel. And no way are they going to do anything to ensure that vehicle registration fees are getting paid or are charged at a rate that generates adequate revenue to cover ODOT funding gaps. So I guess we’re just going to raid the general fund piggy bank.

pdxblake
pdxblake
1 month ago

At this point, ODOT has no money and no credibility and an important job to do (which has nothing to do with expensive projects for wider highways). Pretty much every dollar the department spends at this point is either waste, fraud or abuse. If we cared about providing government services relating to transportation, it’s time to do a hard reset of ODOT, clean house at the top and replace with people who can make ODOT deliver on what we know are the emissions reductions (mitigations under the state’s GHG reduction plan) and adaptation to the climate future we know will be harder on infrastructure than the past was. All of the money in ODOT’s budget needs to be spent preparing for the 2050s, not trying to go back to the 1950s.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
1 month ago

Tina’s on a roll. Love to see it

The tolling plan was regressive and poised to hurt the working class. Naturally the white collar activists primarily work remotely and selfishly cheered on any pain inflicted on those who have no choice but to drive for their careers, their families, etc.

Nobody, outside of a very privileged few, wanted this.

And we all knew that once implemented, a tax like this never goes away. The money will just keep getting raided like PCEF or the homeless tax, etc., diverted to programs unrelated to what was originally claimed.

Enough of his bait-and-switch nonsense. This issue was worthy of a riot, for once.

Mary
Mary
1 month ago

Comment of the week! Yep,the lack of respect and understanding of blue collar and lower income folks is why left leaning college educated activists are now losing more of their battles. This is also why Trump has been able to attract huge numbers of working class individuals to the Republican Party. No respect = No support.

dw
dw
1 month ago

There goes truth, evading simplicity.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

JM got it right here. I’m one of those college-educated lefties and I want to pay a toll every time I use the freeway – it’s only fair.

Yes, we absolutely should have equity in tolling, and there are good ways to do it. But the idea that “freeways should be free” is utter nonsense. They never were, and they never will be.

Why is paying for what we use so hard for people to accept?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

I want to pay a toll every time I use the freeway – it’s only fair.

You could do so voluntarily if you feel strongly about it.

Most people see taxes as a necessary but undesirable burden to pay for things we’ve collectively decided we want government to fund (including roads). But you clearly believe the toll is a good unto itself, and what the money is used for is secondary.

In this case, the money collected would be used to expand highways, which is something you don’t want but are apparently willing to accept if that’s the cost of getting the toll.

Not many people see it this way. I suspect your ideal tolling scheme would be expensive enough to collect that there would be nothing left over to actually use for anything, which this proposal might have actually accomplished.

Why is paying for what we use so hard for people to accept?

I’ll ask next time I’m at the library.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

 you clearly believe the toll is a good unto itself, and what the money is used for is secondary.

This is what it boils down to: punishment for those who do not conform. It’s motivated by a nearly evangelical belief of moral superiority.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Everyone should pay for using the road. What does “equity in tolling” mean?
And at what point do we have enough equity in things?

JaredO
JaredO
1 month ago

Hard disagree.

The lowest income folks were going to get a break on tolls, even people making up to 200% of the poverty line were getting a break on tolls.

Who drives the most? The privileged.

Who pays with lost time when they’re stuck in traffic? The poor. Who is most likely to be fired if they’re late for a job due to being stuck in traffic? Those with time-sensitive jobs, i.e. the poor. Who has to pay for additional childcare fees when they’re stuck in traffic? The poor. Who pays when roads deteriorate, and car repairs go up? The poor. Who’s going to miss out, when funds to support transit are raided for highways? The poor.

Anyone who’s got experience in planning, traffic engineering, economics, or citybuilding, and equity who has looked at the experiences of those cities that have implemented tolling well (London, Stockholm, Singapore, etc.) knows the majority of residents of those cities support it.

Anyone who cares about the climate, about equity, about traffic flowing, about maintaining our roads, and about the value of time wants this.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  JaredO

Who drives the most? The privileged.

Are you sure about that?

SD
SD
1 month ago

ODOT set this up from the beginning as a win for them either way and a loss for everyone else. Tolls happen and they get a new revenue stream to bloat their highway expansion budget even more. No tolls, and they get to keep all of the congestion and unnecessary car trips to justify their highway expansion budget. It was bad news from the start, but I think some folks though they could wrangle some of the funds from ODOT for reasonable things or the “decongestion” effect from tolls would stop ODOT from pushing highways. We really need a governor who will clean house at ODOT, and we need the transportation committee dinosaurs in the state legislator to move on.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

We really need a governor who will clean house at ODOT

Absolutely agree with you on this, but have you thought about finding candidates who don’t have a “D” by their name to vote for? One party rule works as well here as it did in the deep south in the bad old days.

Lazy Spinner
Lazy Spinner
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

If the “R” party has a slate of Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield clones ready to run, then I would consider them. If they persist with a bunch of fringe dwellers that think banning reproductive rights, diverting tax money to private schools, silencing minorities, and replacing The Constitution with The Bible as the basis of law are the top priorities, then I will continue to vote straight “D” no matter how competent or incompetent they are.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Lazy Spinner

To get into it a bit further, finding people who would actually be beholden to the cycling and public transportation communities for election support. Candidates who would act as if non car culture was a crucial part of their elective base.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

There’s a really interesting idea in your comment, SD: how to align ODOT’s incentives so they get more funding for reduced VMT.

Right now ODOT demands more $$ for doing the wrong things, like widening freeways.

If you spend any time on the roads, you see how the onslaught of motor vehicles is absolutely destroying the planet. I was out on the roads on Saturday morning for about five hours and I saw thousands of cars but just a handful of people biking, running, and walking. It’s such a quandary b/c ODOT says they are doing what The People want: building roads for them to drive on. But we need ODOT to respond to other incentives.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

we need ODOT to respond to other incentives.

ODOT will do what they’re directed (and funded) to do by the legislature.

If you want something different, talk to your state rep and senator, and if they don’t do what you want, vote for someone else.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

To be fair, their tolling plan was really bad. Only a tiny fraction of the revenue was going to make it to ODOT coffers to fund the road expansions. Hopefully the next time this comes up, they have a more cost-efficient way to collect the tolls.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Their tolling plan was not bad, it was going to do exactly what the people who wrote it wanted it to do.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Enrich their partners and provide only a fraction of the revenue for actual road spending?

https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/odots-86-percent-cost-of-collecting-tolls-on-i-205-revealed/

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

I dislike feeling cynical, but yes.

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 month ago

I hope Secretary Pete calls her tomorrow and says half of the money the US DOT gave to the IBR needs to be refunded. And what does Gov Inslee think/say?

WRF
WRF
1 month ago

I honestly feel like I’ve been in the minority the last few years as a transportation professional being against tolling in our region.

While I’m all in favor of finding ways to reduce trips by SOVs and improving modal options through better infrastructure for transit, biking and walking, I’ve felt that tolling as proposed just incentivized finding alternative routes using the region’s arterials and collectors. For those that need to drive, I would much rather find ways to keep them on our interstate than to have them in the mix with vulnerable users on bikes and on foot.

If the goal is to make driving more expensive, there are better and more equitable ways.

A road-usage charge would be my first choice to replace an aging gas tax. Let’s go back to charging people for how much they drive on whatever road they choose to go on. Let’s tie it to inflation so we don’t end up where we are currently with funding not keeping pace with the costs of construction.Place a road tax on tires (and tie it to inflation as well). The larger the tire, the more the tax. Also, tax studded tires heavily. This will hit vehicles that buy oversized tires and will make EVs pay just the right amount more, since they tend to go through tires more quickly than lighter vehicles.
The revenue from these fees should be split with cities and counties, similar to the gas tax.

I also feel that registration and titling fees need to be reassessed when the 2025 legislature looks into transportation funding. Right now, EVs are charged almost twice as much than a pickup truck for titling and over 2.5 times as much for registration. Let’s quit incentivizing older, less fuel-efficient vehicles while at the same time punishing people that buy EVs. Let’s charge all vehicles the higher rates. Also, keep the road maintenance funds coming from a road-usage charge and make the fees at the DMV pay for the operation of the DMV.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  WRF

Great ideas here! I participated in the pay-by-mile pilot and participated in discussion forums about it that were dominated by motor-heads who argued that larger, heavier vehicles do NOT have a disproportionate impact on the roads.

We’ll need clear heads to steer an effort to fund transportation that isn’t influenced by so-called bad actors.

SD
SD
1 month ago
Reply to  WRF

I’ve felt that tolling as proposed just incentivized finding alternative routes using the region’s arterials and collectors. For those that need to drive, I would much rather find ways to keep them on our interstate than to have them in the mix with vulnerable users on bikes and on foot.

I believe the other side of this is that the interstate SOV travel by Portlanders, which is very excessive, induces greater SOV use and serves to spread out the places to which people are traveling. Total volume of SOVs increases with interstate use. Total SOV use is not a fixed number. People who “need” to drive is way overestimated, and the “need” to drive is increased by other people driving. The “need” to drive is also dynamic based on how far apart everything is. That higher number of SOVs on the interstates will always then travel on surface streets.
The idea that cars on interstates decreases cars on surface streets is an oversimplification that assumes our built environment is static, where in fact, it is highly dynamic and adjusts to the pressures that we create or alleviate everyday. If it is harder for people to travel to 5 miles instead of one mile, then we incentivize services and businesses to be located closer to people. There is no way to achieve sustainable, life-enriching, transportation without making it harder for people to drive. Fortunately, better zoning, e-bikes and remote work are all in play now, and make rational transportation more achievable than ever.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

Remote work may make “rational transportation” more difficult; the predictable daily trips to downtown that are easily serviced by transit are reduced, while people feel freer to live further afield if they only have to commute part time. Those more distant people, traveling in less predictable ways, results in more driving mode-share, not less.

Olaf
Olaf
1 month ago
Reply to  WRF

So your proposal is to replace gas taxes and registration fees with taxes on tires? Have you considered the second-order effects of this or do you just not care? Lots more people letting their tires go bald, for one. I guess we’ll just create a force of “tire police” to check everyone’s tread depth?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Olaf

Mail-order tires (Tire Rack, e.g.) are already a good deal. This would make them better.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  WRF

Let’s quit incentivizing older, less fuel-efficient vehicles

Those fuel guzzlers pay a lot more gas tax than an efficient vehicle. I have no problem raising vehicle fees and gas taxes across the board, but I don’t think the notion that a 12 MPG lifted monstrosity pays less fees and taxes than a Tesla holds up.

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
1 month ago
Reply to  WRF

Yes the problem is how ODOT would use the money and cut-thru traffic / mismanaged surface streets. No the answer is not to eliminate the gas tax and no we don’t need to raise money to have safety, we simply need to quit squandering it all on getting moar cars stuck into the next block at a red light. Make the outside lanes of every stroad red bus-and-turn-only, and divert cut-thru traffic off of neighborhood greenways, then toll the freeways and price parking like the whole equitable prolonged planning process told us to do. We ruin transportation options for every mode by trying to coddle drivers who don’t want to have to go around the block on the way to their house or pay a market rate to drive / park at the busiest time while we use our resources to let them sit two-by-two at a red light and admire their debts as status symbols. Create viable alternatives to driving, or you’re just rearranging deck chairs.

Victor
Victor
1 month ago

To be clear, she did leave the door open for a toll on the I-5 bridge.

“Kotek said she still wants Oregon and Washington to use tolls for the planned replacement I-5 bridge, but the broader plan to toll I-5 and I-205 should be scrapped.”

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 month ago

Good call Tina.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago

“aging gas tax”

Why do people use language like this? Europeans don’t think of their gas taxes in these terms; they just keep raising them. Germany, the last time I checked, was raising three times (3x!) the amount of money they need to maintain their world class transportation infrastructure with their gas tax (and related fees). The other two thirds go to free public education and other goodies.

All those other whiz bang taxes and fees you me tin are complex and expensive to administer. The gas tax is not, never has been.

[was supposed to nest under WRF’s comment]

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Germany has an entirely different culture around transportation that makes raising gas taxes and fees much more politically palatable.

DOTs in the USA have created a terrible situation whereby The American People expect the best car and truck infrastructure in the world – and we should never have to pay for anything! – no tolls, no fees, no nuttin.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

“Gas tax” is aging because of ever increasing percentage of EVs (who pay no gas tax.) a more equitable system would keep gas tax (because carbon emissions are literally killing us) but add a mileage tax weighted to vehicle weight.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

We need to get serious about taxing (registering, plating, enforcing) electric bicycles, scooters and mopeds as well.

Ray
Ray
1 month ago

If this is limited to those that are non-pedal-assisted and can travel over 20 mph, this is the first comment you’ve made here that I agree with.

Damien
Damien
1 month ago

We need to get serious about taxing (registering, plating, enforcing) electric bicycles, scooters and mopeds as well.

This is what it boils down to: punishment for those who do not conform.

*cough*

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Why do people use language like this? 

The gas tax is unsustainable because over time fewer and fewer people will be paying it. You can only raise it so high before it ceases to raise any revenue at all.

This is probably ok if the goal is to encourage adoption of EVs. It’s less ok if the goal is to raise money.

So yes, the gas tax is aging, and that’s a generous description. Terminally ill is more accurate.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

As of November 2023 Oregon had 80,047 EVs registered. That’s only 2% of the 4.1 million registered vehicles in the state. EVs are sitting on dealer lots just waiting for buyers. Some EV manufactures have instituted layoffs do to lower demand. Ford has stopped EV production until demand improves. The largest auto maker in the world has only one EV model for sale. They believe the near future is Hybrids and Plugin Hybrids. I would say were aging faster than the gas tax is.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

The number of EVs in OR doubled in 2022, and we’re second only to CA in terms of new EV registrations. Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has a lot of money for building charging infrastructure, and everyone has (finally) agreed on a standard.

So yes, EVs are a small part of the fleet now, but do you really expect that to remain true over time?

Plugin hybrids are a complex stopgap solution designed to assuage range anxiety, and present almost the same challenge to the gas tax as pure EVs do. Even if they are the future, the gas tax is still going to generate less and less money.

https://www.opb.org/article/2023/09/22/oregon-electric-vehicles-cars-charging-stations-environment-green-emmissions/

PS
PS
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Calhoon

Just think how long it will take to even get to 50% EV share. If those 80,000 EVs registered was an annual increase (which we know it isn’t, its over the last 7-10 years), it will take 26 years to get to 50% EV share. That. Is. Never. Happening.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  PS

Adoption of solar panels was slow until it wasn’t. Electric bikes were rare until they weren’t. EVs are no different.

PS
PS
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Much different, cost being the most dramatic, relative to income or alternatives, EVs are very expensive. Add in considerable infrastructure needs to improve charging and the availability of source materials for battery components and widespread adoption is a very long term horizon project.

For anyone who can afford a $50,000 plus vehicle, gas is cheap and convenient.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  PS

Installing solar panels is expensive as well. And, as with other technologies, the price will fall as production increases.

You can get new EVs for under $30K, and used ones are very cheap, all before rebates.

dw
dw
1 month ago

Regional rail is the answer. We already have the rails; run the trains.

Tolling is a regressive tax if no alternatives exist.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

We don’t have nearly enough rail capacity to add regional rail all over the Metro. The Union Pacific mainline is single track south of Milwaukie, all the way to Salem, with limited sidings. Likewise with the lines leading east from Portland. The BNSF mainline is double track but relies on a 100+ year old swing bridge over the Columbia. And worst of all, we have no good, direct lines serving the western suburbs. We would need billions of investment if we wanted to get serous about regional rail.

https://www.kgw.com/article/news/investigations/wes-commuter-rail-is-costing-trimet-108-per-passenger/283-80e62cae-2082-494f-816e-9940270d1fdc

dw
dw
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Better just give up and spend even more billions to widen the freeways then

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

I’m firmly in the camp of building more rails and adding trains. But let’s be realistic: heavy commuter rail is very expensive and involves dealing with private freight operators who have different priorities.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

I would love to know what WES’s emissions per passenger mile are. I would bet good money that they are considerably higher than what an equivalent number of single occupant cars would emit. And certainly higher than what the equivalent bus or van service would emit.

PS
PS
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

Spend billions of dollars on a regional rail network, OR, tie food stamp recipients to vehicle registration for free tolls. In Oregon its actually difficult to know which one they would screw up more.

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

The problem with rail in a metro region with 2-4,000 people per square mile is what happens when you get off at the station which is miles along busy roads with no bikelanes or sidewalks from where you want to go? And buses that are mostly empty even when running only once an hour.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

No, rails are ancient technology and overly expensive. Buses are still more flexible for public transportation.
For the cost of a single MAX project we could have had way more buses and drivers that could have covered much wider areas than the fixed (and often broken) MAX trains.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

I’m of two minds on this one. On the one hand, these projects need to be paid for and tolling will help keep down demand for personal automobiles versus other modes, up to and including increasing political appetite for a better transit network to get around the tolling. On the other hand, implementing these tolls without a robust transit network already in place does pose significant equity issues to the people who had no choice but to move out to the suburbs and drive to work, school, groceries, etc. via their personal automobile. I recognize that we’ve got to start somewhere to interrupt the vicious cycle of car exclusivity and jump start the cycle of more equitable transportation networks, but it seems to me that the tolling first approach is perhaps the most unfair, painful place to start.

Really, ODOT needs to stop building [expletive deleted] highways all over the [expletive deleted] place!

[Writer’s note, the expletives were self-censored, don’t blame Lisa!]

Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

When I read this news item (and passed it onto BP) it just made me sad for Oregon (and SW Washington). Our grandparents and great grandparents understood the value of paying for transportation facilities you use and to maintain them, as I have long said. But sadly there does not seem to be any political heart with Oregon’s political leadership nor perhaps with ODoT…as there has been little ruckus in this announcement.

Kopek should let ODoT off the hook to manage tolls – if tolling really will be on the table for next year in Salem – AND at the same time contract out this task NOW to WSDoT to begin marketing and then to implement, as they have been doing it for years well in the Puget Sound. No need to reinvent the we’ll especially if the buggy (ODoT) does not want to go anywhere. ODoT & WSDoT already have bi-state mechanisms for system cost sharing…just add a tolling program on.

https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-12/Toll-AnnualReport-FY2023.pdf

Until then, I guess Portland (and the mid I-5 corridor) will just sink deeper into lethargy, meekness and disrepair…until there is an end to the “free-for-me” funding and services rebellion in Salem and at city hall in Portland.

Bobcycle
Bobcycle
1 month ago

I’ve read that the original I-5 bridge was a tolled road until paid off. And was tolled again when they expanded the bridge in 1958. It’s still a good idea.

Hunnybee
Hunnybee
1 month ago

This is great news! With low incomes citizens getting pushed to the outskirts but still working in the inner city, tolling is inequitable, even if the low income are charged less.

Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago
Reply to  Hunnybee

Hunnybee, regarding your comment “tolling is inequitable, even if the low income are charged less”…you are missing the greater “inequity of equality by congestion”, if you follow your logic of promoting the model “drive until you can afford housing” often using older ICE low mpg trucks and the tolling proposal offering income based tolling fees.

Typically those in the media etc. that speak the loudest about “protecting low income folks and fighting the inequity of implementing any roadway charges” are usually super drivers who wish to protect their subsidized driving habits.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Those that speak the loudest…

Indeed — a lot of people cite “equity” or “single mothers working three jobs” when it’s really just a cover for what they already wanted to do.

Hunnybee
Hunnybee
1 month ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Alas, while we have a decent mass transit system, that’s mostly true for people living between NW 23rd/SW Vista on the west side and I-205 on the east side. A lot of lower income people have been pushed to the suburbs and they still work downtown or inner east side or elsewhere that makes them have to drive to jobs, especially graveyard shift workers. Congestion on the roads is a problem for all, but a lot of people have no realistic choice but to drive to and from their jobs. Tolling freeways will be one more regressive tax.