Proposed transportation package could bring tolls to Portland me - KPTV - FOX 12

Proposed transportation package could bring tolls to Portland metro area highways

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The State of Oregon has created a new transportation package that by 2018 could have people stopping at tolls on the highway.

It's no shock that peak traffic in the Portland area is a nightmare. The new plan is hoping to solve the congestion problem but it may cost people more.

Forty-five minutes in the car is what Mike Amini spends to and from work, at least five days a week.

"It's getting busier everyday," said Amini.

When Amini moved out of Portland awhile back, his goal was to save some money. But now he may have to use that extra money to pay tolls on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205.

"For us to have to pay to come to work is pretty ridiculous," said Amini.

The full transportation package has a plan to fix concerns about safety, widening highways and managing traffic in the metro area. 

Assistant Director with the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travis Brouwer, says tolls also seem like a way to help fix some of those problems.

"They have these up in the Seattle metro region now where if you've ever driven up on I-405 to Bellevue you can pay to use your express toll lane, I found probably the best three bucks I've ever spent," said Brouwer.

Max Metschan is a commuter who believes traffic and delays have become part of the daily grind.

"I think it adds a lot of frustration, drivers getting angry, and things like that," said Metschan. 

Even though the new law passed the state level, Oregon still needs the green light from the Federal Highway Administration. Something Brouwer says could bring things to a standstill if they don't agree.

"Valued pricing could be a little challenging under the federal law which is really geared more toward reconstructing or rebuilding or replacing bridges or widening highways, so it's fairly narrow allowance for use of tolls under federal law," Brouwer said.

The tolling plan can be anything from a voluntary high occupancy lane to a bridge toll. Either way, Brouwer is confident the benefits will outweigh the cost of what people may have to pay.

"We're gonna work through this, and we are gonna make sure the public voice is heard through this process," said Brouwer.
 
Most of the money that ODOT receives would go toward preserving and fixing local bridges. ODOT says they have until the end of Dec. 2018 to come up with an exact plan.

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