PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Transportation is getting serious about tolls.
During a meeting Monday at ODOT’s regional headquarters, 25 people on a committee representing many sides of the toll road debate discussed the issue. The public was also invited to attend.
The two routes ODOT is considering for tolls are Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 from the Washington border down to the Interstate 205 junction south of Portland.
Supporters say the tolls could relieve congestion and frustration on the major commute routes.
Tolling, or as ODOT calls it, "value pricing," can come in several forms. You could pay for a dedicated travel lane, or to drive at peak times.
The agency hopes drivers take an interest as they talk about the options.
“We hope that the process will educate folks and they might see the benefits that value pricing will bring to the region in terms of making reliable, less congested trips for people who are traveling here,” said Travis Brouwer, assistant director for ODOT.
If tolls happen, they are at least a couple of years away. In the meantime, drivers are already forming opinions.
“I don’t appreciate the traffic at all, especially when I have all these kids and we’re trying to get to where we need to go," one woman said. "And I would pay to get there a little bit faster."
But another driver we spoke with doesn’t think there are enough lanes available to make tolling work.
“I mean just put a nickel on the gas or whatever, the toll’s not gonna work," she said. "It’s congested every day at rush hour, you know. It just wouldn’t work.”
To learn more and give drivers a chance to weigh in, ODOT is holding several other public committee meetings through next June on the tolling issue.
The next meeting is December 7 in Portland. The agency needs to have a proposal to submit to the federal government by the end of 2018.