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News / Clark County News

Oregon governor pauses toll plans until 2026

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 2, 2023, 7:56pm

Oregon interstates will live to see another toll-free year.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek issued a pause on tolling until 2026, according to a press release from three Clackamas, Ore., area lawmakers. Kotek’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Columbian.

The announcement comes less than a week after a bipartisan bill with more than 30 sponsors was introduced to block the Oregon Department of Transportation from enacting tolls on state highways until 2026. The bill allows for tolling on the Interstate 5 Bridge, which is scheduled to start in 2026.

The first tolls were set to appear on Interstate 205 on the Abernethy and Tualatin River bridges near Oregon City, Ore., in mid-2024. Toll revenue would be used to pay for upgrades to the two bridges.

ODOT is studying a per-bridge toll rate of between 50 and 60 cents during off-peak hours and $2 during peak hours, according to KGW-TV. A round trip across both bridges at peak hours could cost drivers $8.

The project has faced particular criticism from residents and leaders in West Linn, Ore., and Oregon City.

“I know firsthand that our communities have not felt heard by ODOT and that they feel their deep concerns were being ignored by the agency,” Rep. Annessa Hartman, D-Gladstone, said in the press release.

Tolling on the two I-205 bridges would be followed by tolls on all lanes of I-5 and I-205 from the interstate bridges to about the Boone Bridge near Wilsonville, Ore. According to the project website, the earliest those tolls could begin is in late 2025.

“Our communities should not disproportionately shoulder the cost of interstate infrastructure,” Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, said in the press release. “A flawed tolling program would harm working families, individuals on fixed incomes, and businesses in my community. I don’t believe a toll should divide someone from their own town.”

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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.

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Columbian staff writer