GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. -- While lawmakers at the State Capitol in Salem look into the idea of charging a fee for studded snow tires in Oregon, drivers on Mt. Hood carried on a debate of their own on Wednesday.
Legislators in the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee are considering three different bills with the same idea behind them: to charge drivers who use studded snow tires, to make up for some of the estimated $40 million to $50 million in damage studs do to Oregon roads each year.
For most mountain drivers we talked with, studded tires feel like the safest way to travel on snow and ice.
“It’s a really big issue and to make it harder to access that, or make it less favorable, is kind of dangerous for the people, and you’re really just putting tax dollars above human safety,” said Max Stovall of Madras, who often travels the mountain pass to get to college in the Willamette Valley.
But another driver said she doesn’t like studded tires because of the damage they do to the pavement.
“If they’re not needed then why use them? A lot of people get them on way before they’re needed and take them off way after they’re needed and the damage is just awful, and we spend millions of dollars in road repair,” said Sarah Yates of Redmond, who says putting on chains when she needs them works just fine.
All three bills were introduced in the committee Wednesday and there was public testimony.
The committee has yet to vote on whether to move any of the bills on to the house floor, for a chance to become law.