The transportation agency and its consultants will conduct modeling of the different tolling scenaries. None of the models are intended as formal proposals, they say.

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - David Ungemah, transportation consultant with WSP, during a meeting of the Portland Region Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee meeting Dec. 7, 2017, at the Oregon Department of Transportation office in PortlandThe Oregon Department of Transportation will conduct modeling of seven tolling scenarios along Interstates 5 and 205 to see how the variations would affect traffic and nearby neighborhoods in the metro area in the next 10 years.

The work is the next step for a regional committee charged with coming up with recommendations for how to toll Portland-area freeways. The committee's goal is to offer a plan that would help manage vehicle bottlenecks and raise funds for congestion-busting projects.

A $5.3 billion transportation-funding bill, passed earlier this year, required the Oregon Transportation Commission to consider, but not to mandate, tolling in the Portland metro area.

The committee is scheduled to submit recommendations by June to the commission. The decision on a tolling scheme rests with the commission.

It's unlikely that the tolling methods would be uniform along the two interstates, as segments of the freeways have different geographic obstacles, said David Ungemah, a consultant with New York-based transportation engineering and management firm WSP USA.

Options include tolling all lanes of the freeways, tolling an existing lane, possibly in segments; or adding a new toll lane, Ungemah said.

The tolls could be priced at set amounts or dynamically according to congestion or time of day.

The seven scenarios to be modeled are:

1) Both interstates would be tolled on all lanes in both directions;

2) Both interstates would have one existing lane in each direction converted to a toll lane;

3) Both interstates would have an additional toll lane constructed in each direction;

4) I-5 would have no toll lanes and I-205 would have one toll lane constructed in each direction;

5) I-5 would be tolled on every lane in both directions; no tolls on I-205;

6) I-5 would have one existing lane in both directions converted to a toll lane; I-205 would have all lanes in both directions tolled;

7) I-5 would have one existing lane in both directions converted to a toll lane; I-205 would have a newly constructed toll lane added in both directions.

ODOT also will analyze how traffic would change on the interstates in the next 10 years if no tolls are imposed.

The modeling would reflect road improvement planned in the next 10 years.

None of the scenarios are formal proposals, Ungemah said.

Members of the committee and the transportation commission intend to hold several public hearings before deciding on a final plan.

The commission also would determine toll rates and exemptions. Toll booths will not be used to charge drivers for tolls.

Instead, the agency would use transponders to register a toll charge and license plates identification to send bills to drivers without transponders, said Travis Brouwer, ODOT assistant director.

"Most systems read license plates for vehicles without transponders and send a bill in the mail," Brouwer said.

"That's how Washington's system works."

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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