PORTLAND, Ore. --Vancouver's mayor is changing his tune on tolling.

Mayor Tim Leavitt says he's now in favor of tolling drivers at a planned new bridge across the Columbia River.

Leavitt ran for mayor last year on a no-tolling platform.

But he says he can't convince legislators and other transportation officials to pare down the bridge proposal in order to reduce or remove tolls.

So he is pitching an idea to toll several portions of the five-mile project, especially at the interchanges south of the proposed bridge near Jantzen Beach.

Leavitt may have lost the tolling battle but he says he's not done trying to influence how those tolls will be formulated.

I can't just throw up my hands and walk away from the project, stomp my feet on the ground like a little kid and say, 'no tolls, no nothing' because I don't think that's in the best interest of the citizens of Vancouver, he said.

Some Vancouver drivers said they were upset at the mayor's new stance, calling it a flip-flop.

You run on a platform and change your mind halfway through the deal; not such a good idea, I don't think, said driver Bill Toops.

Driver Justin Richards disagrees.

You have to raise money to build bridges somehow and I'd rather it was a safe bridge than not, he said.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams - another member of a key stakeholder committee in a position to influence the overall debate- says he'll help explore this idea with Leavitt as long as tolls are charged equitably on both sides of the multi-billion dollar project.

Regional stakeholders meet again on this project in August.

An Environmental Impact Statement is due by summer's end.

The Federal Government requires the EIS to include a sound financing plan for the overall project.

Read or Share this story: