Washington lawmakers ask Gov. Inslee to oppose I-5 tolls

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer



U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, has recruited nine state lawmakers to oppose Oregon’s consideration of tolls on Interstate 5 and  205.

The congresswoman sponsored an amendment to a federal spending bill last week that would prevent funds made available by the bill to be used to establish or collect tolls on the aforementioned freeways.

Although Oregon has not implemented tolls on I-5 and I-205, the state’s $5.3 billion transportation bill directs the state transportation commission to consider tolls between the state line and Tualatin, Ore. The bill gives commissioners until Dec. 31, 2018, to ask the Federal Highway Administration for approval.

State Sens. John Braun, R-Centralia, Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, join state Reps. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, Liz Pike, R-Camas, Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, in their call for Gov. Jay Inslee to “take an active role in opposing Oregon’s transportation plan that calls for imposing tolls on I-5 and I-205 at the state line,” according to a press release.

The Columbian reached out to Inslee’s office for comment but did not receive a response by press deadline. Inslee has not yet commented publicly on possible I-5 and I-205 tolling.

The letter to Inslee also outlines why signees believe the tolling plan will “unfairly charge” Southwest Washington residents who commute into Oregon for work. An estimated 74,000 Washington residents work in Oregon, with 45,078 of those living in Clark County.

“The Oregon transportation bill specifically states that revenue from tolling beginning at the state line will be used to improve portions of l-205 located south of Portland; in other words, infrastructure located miles away from the bridges that our constituents use,” the letter reads.

“Governor Inslee, we recognize our shared interest in the freight mobility, safety and congestion relief needs stemming from the current I-5 bridge. Oregon’s current proposal, as outlined, does nothing to address those needs: it is a bad deal for Washington residents. It does not honor the long-standing, shared responsibility between Washington and Oregon for projects and maintenance between our state boundaries.”

View the letter in its entirety here.