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Tolling On Portland Area Highways Takes Step Forward

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A committee has voted on recommendations for tolling on Interstate 5 through downtown Portland and I-205 at the Willamette River in Portland.

Drivers in the Portland area are one step closer to paying tolls. A volunteer committee voted Monday on recommendations for tolling two major highways.

The proposals were eight months in the making, and that process was messy. Some committee members pushed smaller tolling schemes, while others argued for widespread tolls. Vancouver residents have been particularly concerned about road pricing.

The majority of the group wound up aligning behind a two-step proposal.

That first phase would toll I-5 through Downtown Portland, and I-205 at the Willamette River. The second phase would institute tolls on both highways, from Tualatin to the Columbia River.

Committee co-chair Sean O’Hollaren said tolling would relieve gridlock.

“Our population exploded and our transportation infrastructure has been largely frozen with design and capacity that was created in the 1960s,” O’Hollaren said. “It doesn’t work anymore.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission will study the group’s recommendations.

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.