OPINION: Neron's flip-flop on tolling shows disconnect with district
One of the reasons I stepped away from my small business to run for House District 26 is the planned tolls for Interstate 5 and Interstate 205, tolls that will disproportionately hurt our residents. I was shocked to learn that our current representative, Courtney Neron, voted to allow ODOT to proceed with implementing a tolling program on both freeways to commence in 2024 (House Bill 3055).
After campaigning over the last six months and knocking on almost 15,000 doors, it is clear that residents cannot afford these tolls. And like a true politician, Courtney has flipped her stance on tolls, just in time for the election.
This district needs a representative who instinctively knows before they vote that new tolls will be devastating to commuters, students and small businesses. I would have voted no on House Bill 3055, and when elected, I will work to stop ODOT from implementing new tolls on freeways that you've already paid for.
In August, I sat through an ODOT presentation that described plans for these new tolls. Tolling manager Garet Prior described that tolls on I-205 alone, during peak commute times, will cost us around $8 per day, per driver. That's over $200 a month!
Mr. Prior also stated that these tolls will not provide additional lanes and that almost 60% of the toll revenue will be spent on administrative overhead. That's outrageous.
At a subsequent meeting in Charbonneau, Mr. Prior told a concerned crowd that tolls could cost as much as $9.60 per day, per driver on I-205. He didn't have the numbers for new tolls on I-5 at the Boone Bridge, but one can safely assume they will be similar.
There is no mitigating the damage these tolls will do to working families. Whether you commute to a job each day, have teenagers who drive to work, students who drive to college, or simply commute for groceries and medical appointments, this affects us all. Forcing Oregonians to cover an additional monthly expense of over $200 in new tolls is cruel policy at a time when inflation is hitting family budgets hard.
Every politician who voted for tolls and prioritized bloated government projects over common sense policies should be voted out. It's time for bold leadership that will stop this attack on working families.
Courtney Neron thinks that we simply need to move the tolling locations so they avoid hurting her constituents. That's not leadership. ODOT needs to halt the program and we need a representative who will force the issue. No matter where they attempt to place a toll booth, you will pay more.
I credit the residents of House District 26 for raising this issue to the point where Rep. Neron was forced to face her bad vote. Her promises ring hollow, however, as ODOT continues moving forward. It's time for change in Salem.
Jason Fields is the Republican nominee for state representative in House District 26, including Wilsonville, Sherwood, King City and parts of Tigard. He is a small business owner and serves as a citizen budget officer for Yamhill County.
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