Oregon DOT testing new technology for road usage charging

Jan. 20, 2021

Portland-area drivers will collect data for three potential funding models

The Oregon DOT (ODOT) is testing new ways to fund transportation projects at the city and county level using the state’s pay-per-mile system, OReGO.

Portland-area drivers are being recruited now through early February to participate in OReGO’s Local Road Usage Charge Pilot.

Participating Portland-area drivers will collect data for three potential funding models:

  • Area-boundary pricing: Time-of-day road charge pricing within the Portland Metro area.
  • Layer-area pricing sub-pilot: Time-of-day road charge pricing in two overlapping areas, such as a city and a county. In this pilot, testing will occur within Portland and Multnomah County.
  • Corridor pricing sub-pilot: Time-of day road charge pricing on specific highway corridors within the Portland Metro area.

Study participants will plug a device into their vehicle (OBD-II port), drive that vehicle around the Portland Metro area, and answer questions about their experience. The pilot will continue through late summer. ODOT will report the data and feedback collected through the pilot to the Oregon Legislature and the Federal Highway Administration

The Oregon Legislature identified the downward trend in transportation funding in 2001 and established Oregon’s Road User Fee Task Force to investigate alternatives to the traditional gas tax. With its direction, ODOT designed and conducted pilot programs in 2006 and 2013 to test a per-mile charging system. The fully operational and voluntary system, named OReGO, launched in 2015 and was the first of its kind in the nation.

Many other states are considering charging by the mile, and members of Congress are exploring taking the approach national. ODOT says as the leader in road usage charging, Oregon is working to improve the system by exploring new technologies like those in the Local RUC Pilot, and leading a coalition of western states that is working through how this system could operate across state lines, so out-of-state travelers would pay their fair share to use Oregon’s roads.