Committee makes recommendations for possible tolls on Portland-area highways

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A committee has made recommendations to the Oregon Transportation Commission regarding possible tolling on highways in the Portland area.

The 25-member Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee has met six times since November 2017. The committee was created to develop a recommendation for “congestion pricing” on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205.

The committee’s report recommends studying pilot projects for tolling on I-5 through downtown Portland and on I-205 near the Abernethy Bridge and Stafford Road, “to learn more about the effectiveness of congestion pricing in these areas.”

The committee recommended a two-tier approach with pilot projects before eventually tolling both corridors between the state line and the intersection of the highways near Tualatin.

The committee stated the tolling program should include strategies to improve public transportation, provisions to support environmental justice and low-income populations and ways to minimize freeway diversion onto local roads.

Revenues from tolls should be used to improve the regional transportation system, according to the committee’s recommendations.

The advisory committee also recommended that the Oregon Transportation Commission start to consider a long-term congestion pricing plan for freeways throughout the Portland area and start planning for additional system capacity to accommodate future growth.

A public comment period is open at ODOTValuePricing.org. Comments received through July 20 will be given to the OTC prior to its August meeting when it will provide direction to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The OTC will also host a special public meeting at 4 p.m. July 12 at University Place Hotel and Conference Center, 310 S.W. Lincoln St., Columbia Falls Ballroom, Portland.

The OTC will submit a congestion pricing proposal to the Federal Highway Administration by the end of 2018, as directed by the Oregon Legislature through House Bill 2017.

“Value pricing, also known as congestion pricing, is a broad term covering an array of tolling options in which a higher price is set for driving on a road when demand is greater, usually in the morning and evening rush hours. The goal of congestion pricing is to reduce congestion by encouraging some people to travel at less congested times or use alternate modes, and to provide users with a more reliable trip. Transit improvements are a typical component of pricing programs,” according to ODOT.

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