Tolling’s Political Pile-Up

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

If the Oregon Department of Transportation has its way, Portland-area freeways won’t be free for much longer. Tolling is coming to Oregon, and it’s coming in about two years.

ODOT’s current plan is to toll all lanes of I-5 and I-205 from just south of Wilsonville to all the way across the Columbia River. If you’re catching a flight at PDX, shopping at Bridgeport Village, or just trying to get to work, tolling is going to drain your bank account.

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At a hearing last week, a legislator noted that by serving in the legislature, she would rack up $2,000 a year in tolls. TriMet complains it doesn’t have enough buses to handle all the people it expects will be forced onto public transit. The Metro Council President worries about Interstate traffic being diverted into residential neighborhoods. ODOT estimates more than a quarter of drivers won’t be able to afford the tolls and will need subsidies. Everyone hates tolling, but our politicians are blinded by the dollar signs from tolling revenues. We’re heading for a political pile-up.

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It’s not too late to stop this tolling disaster. Tolls only make sense when the money is used to expand road capacity. ODOT’s current plans fail this basic test. When the legislature meets in February, one of its top priorities must be to pass a bill that stops ODOT’s misguided tolling plans.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Dave Farmer

    Dave Farmer

    10:33 am - December 15, 2022

    Still so many unanswered questions.
    How much will it cost to Build? Operate? Collection expense of 30% to 60% will be a serious drain on so many families and our entire economy. Toll dollars flushed down this bottomless pit are taken out of our economy—
    Examples, food, clothes, housing, (extremely high), retirement savings, activities for our kids, and financially helping family and inflation that is so high. Diversion traffic onto many roads will affect — traffic, safety, unreliable travel times, and increased wear on streets that are already close to failing.
    Until the tolls even out, I – 5 will get a lot more use. Especially during high toll times (high traffic flow brings high tolls). About $2.20 per section, both ways. Through traffic (many big rigs) will often flood I – 5. And where does our money go (forever).??? We deserve to

  2. Avatar for Dave Farmer

    Dave Farmer

    8:47 pm - December 17, 2022

    When fully implemented, how much will a rountrip cost to PDX. Busy time be from Willamette??

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