ODOT updates Lake Oswego City Council on tolling projects
The state is moving forward with work and further analysis on implementing tolling on I-5 in Portland from SW Multnomah Blvd. to N Going/Alberta Street, and on I-205 near the Abernethy Bridge.
The Oregon Department of Transportation's Toll Program Director Lucinda Broussard updated the Lake Oswego City Council on the tolling projects during the May 19 City Council meeting.
While the I-5 tolling project seems to be far off — more investigation and analysis needs to be done — I-205 tolling was the main focus of discussion.
The ultimate goals from the tolling projects are to generate revenue and manage demand on roads.
While the toll amounts and time of day they would be enacted have not yet been determined, the revenue generated from tolls would go into a Congestion Relief Fund for roadway projects including travel lanes, transit improvements in or along the roadway and bike or pedestrian facilities.
Broussard said the tolls would be electronic and would be hung on a gantry above the roadway with the ability to identify the vehicle and collect the appropriate information without the person ever having to stop their vehicle.
"We should be going into the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process, which is looking at the environmental Impacts starting in the summer," said Broussard, adding that it would take a couple years to complete the process before the tolls would begin.
So far, Broussard said, 60% of the money for design has been collected for widening I-205, but no money for construction has been collected. Money would be collected from tolling.
For this project, Broussard said ample public engagement and public comment is required.
An equity mobility advisory committee — which consists of 12 appointed members representing a diverse array of people — has been created to provide input to ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission on the equity and mobility aspect of the tolling projects.
The first official meeting of the committee will be in June.
Council President Jackie Manz said as the community continues to live in this "new normal" resulting from the ongoing pandemic, the No. 1 group of people who use public transit and cannot work at home tend to be people of color or people in jobs that require them to be at a brick and mortar location.
On a similar note, Councilor Daniel Nguyen said the health crisis has exacerbated some inequities in terms of people being able to work from home. He asked if the tolling project would disproportionately burden people who need to commute longer distances for work versus people who have the luxury to work from home and not pay a toll.
Broussard said the equity committee was created to look at that.
Councilor John Wendland was concerned with folks racking up tolling fees since Oregonians aren't used to a heavy tolling system. He also said he had a hard time wrapping his head around the tollbooth implementation above the roadway and how people would be aware they had fees and not continuously be cited for not paying them.
Broussard mentioned ODOT would market the project and program, and they will come up with other ways for drivers to pay tolls — not everyone needs an account with a transponder, she said, adding that ODOT is looking at people having an account linked to their license plate or potentially utilizing Cash App.
For more information about the tolling projects, visit the project's website.
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