Tolling is never anyone’s first choice, and it is largely unpopular with the motoring public. (For an example of such discord, keep an eye out for our upcoming December issue’s Region Report.) But it cannot be feasibly denied that it is a source of revenue for any state’s ailing—or developing—road and bridge system. Such a conclusion may well be reached soon in Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering tolling a 7-mile stretch of I-5 near downtown Portland, from the Alberta Street Exit to south of downtown at the Multnomah off-ramp.
The plan remains in development; the state says it's too early to say how much this could cost drivers. DOT best estimates show at least five years leadtime before any tolling begins. Further preliminary plans also call for a toll along I-205 near the Abernathy Bridge at Oregon City.
“How we can look at putting individuals in other modes, so that there's not so much heavy dependence on the highway system which obviously creating the congestion issue that we're facing today,” Alando Simpson of the Oregon Transportation Commission was quoted saying.
The commission indicated that it will look at how to improve public transit to Portland's suburbs, offering drivers other options than paying the toll, though any indication of alternative revenue streams as direct as a toll were not verified. The toll commission is expected to sign off on the plan next week, sending the measure upstream to the federal government.