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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

I-5 Bridge tolling works way through Washington House

Officials study rates between $1.50 and $3.55 per trip

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 13, 2023, 6:42pm

Legislation allowing tolling on the Interstate 5 Bridge continues to work its way through Olympia.

The House Committee on Transportation held its first public hearing on Thursday about Senate Bill 5765, authorizing tolling on the Interstate 5 Bridge. The Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support last week.

Tolls will likely go into effect on the current bridge in 2026, Replacement Program Administrator Greg Johnson said at the hearing. He added that he anticipates the replacement bridge opening to traffic by 2031 at the latest.

An exact date for tolls will be set by a bistate agreement and only after the Secretary of Transportation deems that sufficient federal, state and local funds are in place to complete the project.

“Getting those federal dollars requires that we take all the necessary steps along the way,” Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, said at the hearing.

Although program officials are studying rates between $1.50 and $3.55 per trip, the exact cost has yet to be determined. The rate will be set by the Oregon and Washington transportation commissions.

Officials say they plan to use variable-rate tolling, meaning tolls will be higher during rush hour than in the middle of the night. A discounted rate for low-income individuals is also being discussed.

Tolling is expected to generate $1.2 billion of the bridge replacement program’s estimated $6 billion cost, with state and federal funds making up the rest.

The transportation committee is scheduled to discuss the bill during an executive session at 12:30 p.m Friday.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer