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Recent tolling bill and omnibus transportation package earmark money to address I-5 bottleneck

PMG FILE PHOTO - The project to replace the Boone Bridge would include the addition of an I-5 southbound auxilary lane to quell traffic issues at the bottleneck.

A project to replace and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge at the I-5 bottleneck near Wilsonville has recently received attention from the state Legislature.

Multiple bills at the state Capitol, one that would impose freeway tolling (House Bill 3065) and another an omnibus transportation package (HB 3055), included the project as one of a few major transportation initiatives to receive funding.

While House Bill 3065 is effectively dead, House Bill 3055 was reccomended for approval from the Joint Committee on Transportation this week.

The still-alive bill would allocate $30 million per year toward projects at the Boone Bridge, I-205 from Stafford Road to Oregon Route 213 and I-5 at the Rose Quarter, as well as the implementation of a tolling program.

"I think we are making some progress,' Mayor Julie Fitzgerald said about the push to secure funding for the bridge replacement at a June 7 Wilsonville City Council meeting. "It's a huge project and there's a long way to go."

The city has long advocated for the state to address I-5 traffic congestion near Wilsonville — leading to clogged local streets during rush hour — through the Boone Bridge project. The project would add an auxiliary lane from the southbound Wilsonville Road exit to the Canby-Hubbard exit and is projected to cost $450 million to $550 million. The Oregon Department of Transportation is currently conducting an engineering study for the project in part to garner a more exact cost estimate.

"If HB 3055 passes this session, ODOT will have statutory authority to advance available funds to continue design, engineering, and development work on the I-5 Boone Bridge and Seismic Improvement Project," wrote ODOT Communications Director Talia Williams via email. "Total funds to support construction of this project will likely come from a variety of sources and will include revenues from a regional toll program."

Williams added that ODOT doesn't yet have enough money to complete designs, let alone construct the bridge.

The city of Wilsonville expressed appreciation in written testimony regarding the tolling bill for including the Boone Bridge project and described transportation projects statewide as "woefully underfunded."

"It is unrealistic to expect that the 'feds' will bail us out on all of these projects, and therefore we need to look for ways to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and use funds generated by the region and state to leverage even greater amounts of federal funds to improve our transportation system," the city's testimony read.

In an interview, Fitzgerald clarified that the city is not advocating for tolling but instead for certain needs to be met if it is approved. These include the expansion of multimodal transportation and transit, and the mitigation of impacts to local arterial roads that would experience more congestion. The city would also want revenue to go toward "new facilities that improve that highway corridor's traffic-flow and sustainability."

"Members of the City Council and our constituents seek answers and to resolve issues around the impacts of tolling on our communities on the proposed legislation," the city's testimony read.


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