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Bob Rubitschun: If anyone thinks that this project has public support, they missed an opportunity to hear directly from concerned citizens

Thank you for your news coverage. That's helpful in keeping the spotlight on ODOT's plans to implement tolling on a section of I-205. COURTESY PHOTO: ODOT - Tolls may appear on Interstate 205 as soon as 2024.Bob Rubitschun

If anyone thinks that this project has public support, they missed an opportunity to hear directly from concerned citizens at the Dec. 1 virtual town-hall meeting. There were so many people in attendance that the meeting moderator was required to restrict the length of citizens' comments to 60 seconds. It didn't matter who was speaking or if they finished providing their comments, they were cut off at precisely 60 seconds.

For nearly one hour, citizen after citizen, expressed their concerns of tolling I-205, citing added side-road congestion, additional maintenance costs for local municipalities, negative impact on home values, loss of revenue for local businesses, extra financial burden on low-income travelers, increased traffic fatalities in neighborhoods and a disproportionate tax burden on local citizens.

To date, no other statewide infrastructure project has resorted to tolling. ODOT confirmed that all lanes and all vehicles would be tolled. Not a single caller voiced support for tolling I-205.

Many people attending the town-hall meeting had first-hand experience with other states' tolling initiatives. They confirmed many of the concerns expressed by the town hall attendees and added that tolling did little to improve road congestion. It simply was another tax. Everyone believes I-205 is in need of infrastructure improvements. The proposed funding method is vehemently opposed. Additionally, other policy-based solutions need to be explored to determine if they can provide immediate traffic congestion relief.

Public service is a high calling. The #1 responsibility of any elected official is to represent the people. The I-205 tolling project is an example of elected officials doing the exact opposite of what people want. Elected officials shouldn't override citizens' wishes.

I challenge government officials to put this tolling project on the ballot. Let the citizens participate in the democratic process. Don't disenfranchise them. A few government officials shouldn't be allowed to mandate something for all of us.

If we are truly a government of the people, by the people and for the people then going against the people's will is not right. The people want to be heard; our representatives need to listen.

Bob Rubitschun is an Oregon City resident.

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