OPINION: ODOT, OTC need further community input on tolling plan
Recently, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) proposed as part of their tolling project that tolling would begin at the Boone Bridge.
I have repeatedly advocated for federal and state funding streams for the aging infrastructure at the core of this conversation and have spoken out against ODOT's tolling proposal on Interstate 205, which disproportionately impacts local residents and local safety. I will continue to stand up for my constituents, who would be unfairly impacted by the current incomplete and unfair plan.
Last month, I submitted testimony to ODOT outlining my concerns. The bottom line is that it is entirely unacceptable to put a gantry within the Wilsonville city limits when we use Interstate 5 as the only local road option.
ODOT must return with a proposal that does not cut off Charbonneau residents from their local grocery store, pharmacy or post office. Similarly, a parent that must drop their child off at childcare on one side of a tolled bridge cannot be expected to wait until congestion pricing goes down. Our local community should not carry an outsized burden of funding regional and interstate infrastructure.
I continue to attend meetings about this topic hosted by different entities which are disproportionately impacted by this new revision and overall tolling plan. The business community in Tualatin, the neighborhood of Charbonneau, and the City of Wilsonville are among those voicing dismay over the ODOT process and planning that is underway. Our communities are raising valid concerns and offering thoughtful, measured alternatives. We know that ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) are in the middle of a planning process, and it is crucial that they do a better job of listening and responding to our concerns.
Prior to my time in office, House Bill 2017 (2017) established future tolling along I-205. In 2021, House Bill 3055 aimed to mitigate some of the harms done by the previous bill by providing a framework to ensure equity for low-income drivers and investments in local alternative routes should any tolling occur. It is now abundantly clear that HB 3055 was not sufficient in setting ODOT on the right course, and more specificity is needed to steer them towards a more constructive planning process that provides answers to people's concerns along the way and helps us reach a fair and complete plan to replace aging bridges.
In March 2022, I worked with our legislative Clackamas County caucus to alert ODOT and the OTC of our concerns around their (then current) I-205 plan. We are still waiting for a satisfactory response.
I will continue to do everything in my power as a legislator to hold ODOT and OTC accountable to my community and ensure their voices are heard in this process.
Together, we can redirect ODOT and stop unfair tolls.
Courtney Neron is state representative for House District 26, representing Sherwood, Wilsonville, King City and parts of Tigard. A Democrat, she lives in Wilsonville.
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