MATT_WONG.jpg
MATT WONG

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Thursday afternoon to move forward with a plan that could eventually bring tolled highways to Portland.

The commission voted unanimously to submit an application to the Federal Highway Administration to implement congestion pricing on Interstate 5, between N Going and SW Multnomah, and on Interstate 205, near the Abernathy Bridge, which connects Oregon City and West Linn.

A draft of the application doesn't mention how much drivers would be tolled.

Before voting, the commission heard a range of public comments—both in support and skeptical of tolls. Those in favor cited climate change, traffic, and pollution as reasons to add congestion pricing; those opposed said they worried tolled traffic will spill onto neighborhood roads, as drivers could strategically exit highways to avoid paying fees.

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The money raised by the tolls would go toward funding future transportation projects, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Oregon Transportation Commissioner Tammy Baney said that it would likely be years before any road tolls arrive in Portland.

“For some, we have heard today that that’s not fast enough, it’s not aggressive enough, and it won’t meet the need,” Baney said. “But for some, it may be too fast and too aggressive, and there may be concerns.”

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