ODOT adds Quiring to regional committee looking at tolls

She fills Clark County’s spot originally offered to council Chair Marc Boldt

By Jake Thomas, Columbian staff writer

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The Oregon Department of Transportation has appointed Clark County Councilor Eileen Quiring to a regional committee that will provide input on the state’s plan to pursue “value pricing” or tolls on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205.

Oregon’s $5.3 billion transportation bill, signed into law over the summer, directed a state commission to ask for federal approval to install tolls on I-5 and I-205. Although the department’s plans are still being crafted and any actual tolling is years away, the idea has raised concerns in Clark County that commuters who rely on the I-5 and I-205 bridges will be unfairly charged to pay for infrastructure elsewhere in Oregon.

ODOT responded to these concerns by offering three officials from Southwest Washington spots on its 24-member Portland Region Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee. Kris Strickler, Washington State Department of Transportation’s Southwest regional administrator, will be made a full member of the committee. Anne McEnerny-Ogle, a Vancouver City Council member and mayoral candidate, has also been appointed.

The department originally sought to appoint to the committee Clark County council Chair Marc Boldt, who is elected countywide, but he declined and offered the spot to Quiring.

According to Quiring, she received a letter appointing her to the committee on Wednesday.

“My hope is that I will bring a voice of reason,” Quiring wrote in a text message. She wrote that she hopes to suggest alternatives that will completely relieve Southwest Washington commuters from paying tolls that don’t benefit them.

She further wrote that she will use her position to inform the area’s federal delegation “of the ideas and conversations suggested in the committee in order to protect our Clark County citizens from the undue burden upon them.”

“This needs to be a very public process, and we realize it affects stakeholders on both sides of the river,” ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie said. “It’s something that is new to Oregon and Southwest Washington, and we want to make sure all voices are heard.”

She said that the project team has begun its work and that an analysis should be completed in September.

Dinwiddie also said that any value or congestion pricing could potentially be placed on stretches of I-5 and I-205 between the state line and where they converge north of Wilsonville, Ore.