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There are simpler, cheaper and more effective means to raise money for the purpose of road maintenance.

I took a small walk near 205 and realized, yet again, that traffic was stacked all the way back up Old Willamette Road. Cars as far as the eye could see sat in commuter traffic trying to find the quickest way home. This was not a nightmare of future congestion. This was last week. And tolling is about to make it worse.

Tolling is a costly and ineffective policy for Oregon and its regions. There are simpler, cheaper and more effective means to raise money for the purpose of road maintenance.

First, the cost to individuals, regions and the state is unacceptable. COURTESY PHOTO - Estep

Let's start with people. Those least able to afford tolling will be the ones who are paying twice daily just to commute to work. Picture the single mom driving to an hourly wage job at Clackamas Town Center. Her daily toll could be $7 a day, which is $217 per month. That's a huge hit to an already tight monthly budget. This is in addition to her paying the existing gas tax for road maintenance which went up again this year.

Regionally, this will create traffic chaos. West Linn and Tualatin will become a catacomb of cars in alternate routes as people try to avoid tolls. This will cost time, increase the cost of maintenance on our city roads, and decrease the level of safety in our cities as unfamiliar cars flood our streets.

Additionally, if the state chooses tolling, it will be giving up 40% of its revenue just to administer the tolls. In comparison the current gas fee structure makes a 99% income with only a 1% administration cost.

When comparing the tolling and gas fees, the answer is clear: The tolling regime is too expensive for everyone involved.

Next, at the end of the day tolling is ineffective.

Tolling doesn't fix the congestion we experience from long waits in traffic daily. In fact, it aggravates the gridlock by pushing the traffic to the city and county streets least able to accommodate.

Tolling doesn't fix the roads we use every day; rather it shuffles the responsibility for maintenance from the state to the city.

Tolling is irresponsible as it is not limited to specific highway projects because there is no plan for sunset of the tolling, only expansion into other highways.

Some may question the viability of our gas fee model and its sufficiency to support our state's transportation needs in the future. If we look at how other states support road maintenance they use a gas fee model similarly with great results. The gas fee model is a cheaper, simpler and more effective way to raise the money needed for road maintenance without resorting to tolls.

In conclusion, the I-205 tolling program is poorly devised and will create more problems than it solves. The reality is tolling costs the citizen and the state too much. It is ineffective in the goals it seeks to achieve. It will not grow enough revenue for our transportation needs. And when completed, the 5 o'clock nightmare of overrun neighborhood roads will not be relieved, it will be exasperated.

Let's work together to advance solutions that will create a win-win situation for residents and road safety. There is no need to sacrifice both with a broken and ineffective tolling model.

Aeric Estep is a candidate for state representative for West Linn and Tualatin (aericfororegon.com). He is on Twitter @aericestep.


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