Oregon Toll Program: November 2021 Newsletter

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In this issue

  • Travelers and the community have their say: Traffic is a problem, but the solution is complex.
  • ODOT's next steps to shape the Regional Mobility Pricing Project.   

Travelers and the community have their say about congestion pricing in the Portland metropolitan area

Participants agree traffic is a problem, but they have questions and concerns about potential solutions. 

In response to questions about how to design a congestion pricing project that can work for the Portland metropolitan area, thousands of people shared their perspectives about traffic and proposed solutions earlier this year.

The Oregon Department of Transportation learned many people view congestion as a problem in the Portland metropolitan area, including southwest Washington. The proposed use of congestion pricing – a type of tolling where the fee is higher during peak travel times – generated many questions and concerns during online meetings and surveys held June through November. ODOT continues to invite public input on a congestion pricing project to keep the economy and travelers moving.

“As we have discussions with communities, the idea that we need to think holistically about the transportation system comes through again and again. People say they need options and real choices for mobility,” said Lucinda Broussard, ODOT Toll Program Director. “We hear this and will be working closely with our partners to address these needs.”

The Regional Mobility Pricing Project would apply congestion pricing on all lanes of I-5 and I-205 in the Portland metropolitan area to manage traffic congestion and raise revenue for priority transportation projects that improve mobility. The project area begins just south of the Columbia River in Oregon and ends at the Boone Bridge in Wilsonville.

A separate project, the I-205 Toll Project, is under environmental review. This project would apply congestion pricing on vehicles that cross the two I-205 bridges over the Willamette River (Abernethy Bridge) and the Tualatin River to raise revenue for completion of the I-205 Improvements Project, which will eliminate an existing bottleneck along a 7-mile segment of highway. 

For both projects, toll rates would vary on a set schedule based on time of day, type of vehicle, and the distance travelled on I-5 and I-205.

Below are some highlights of what we’ve learned so far to inform future planning for the Regional Mobility Pricing Project. A full report on community engagement activities and input from June to September 2021 may be found online.

Community feedback 

  • 2 November workshops with elected officials, business and community leaders, and public agency staff 
  • 6 discussion groups with historically excluded and underserved communities, including Black/African American, Native American, Latin American, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian/Slavic communities
  • 6,500+ responses from 5 surveys
  • 29 briefings (June-September)
  • 12 meetings of advisory committees and work groups (June-September)
  • 300+ emails, letters, web comments (June-September)

Community voices

ODOT partnered with community engagement liaisons to invite feedback through discussion groups with historically excluded and underserved communities. Learn more about what they heard from their communities.

CELS video thumbnail

“It was clear that no one wants to pay for being on the road, but it was also clear that people also don’t want to be in traffic.” – Hanna Grishkevich, Slavic Community Engagement Liaison

What we heard

  1. Participants agree traffic is a problem, and COVID has not significantly changed travel. Over 2,000 survey responses (85%) think traffic is a problem or somewhat of a problem in the Portland metropolitan area. Nearly 1,800 responses (69%) identified traveling the same or more since the rise of the pandemic in March 2020.
  1. Participants have questions about how a toll system can help address congestion and what benefits they would see. People want to know more about the need for transportation funding, how it will be used, if it will benefit travelers, and how congestion pricing will help keep traffic moving. Workshop participants said that if drivers pay tolls, they want to experience travel time reliance and predictability improvements that are worth those costs.
  1. Participants want to ensure vulnerable populations are not disproportionately impacted by the tolling program. Meeting participants discussed that it was critical to develop a tolling system that doesn’t make existing inequities worse, but rather helps make progress toward regional equity goals. About a third of survey respondents (37%) supported a discounted toll rate for drivers experiencing low incomes and other impacted groups.
  1. Diversion is a significant concern. Questions about how tolls would impact traffic on local street networks emerged during many discussions, as well as the consequences of traffic diversion related to safety, local businesses, and overall quality of life for residents. While some workshop participants acknowledged that tolling could have a positive impact by keeping vehicles moving on I-5 and I-205, there was concern that if toll rates are too high people might use other routes instead.
  1. Participants want travel choices. There was support for toll-free travel options, such as toll free routes, lanes or improved transit service. Half of survey respondents (52%) noted that they would consider paying a toll if it would save them 30 minutes of travel time. Participants voiced a need for better alternatives to driving, such as improvements to bike, walk, and transit options. Workshop participants requested more clarity on how these options could be funded through toll revenues.

Moving forward to find a solution 

Feedback will help advance early planning.

We’re appreciative of community feedback about the need for accessible, affordable transportation. With the feedback we’ve heard to date, we will update the draft Purpose and Need Statement for the Regional Mobility Pricing Project, and begin to develop a concept for what congestion pricing could look like on I-5 and I-205. Congestion pricing is an effective tool to fix our transportation problems, and a key component of ODOT’s vision to keep people moving through the greater Portland area.

Congestion pricing will be a big change, and we need your help to get it right. Please look for future opportunities in winter 2022 to help us shape a solution. We invite you to stay engaged to hear about future opportunities and share your voice!

About the Oregon Toll Program 

ODOT has two toll projects underway in the Portland metropolitan area – the I-205 Toll Project and the Regional Mobility Pricing Project – to manage traffic on I-205 and I-5 in a way that is equitable and addresses climate change while providing needed funding for critical infrastructure and safety improvements. While separate projects, they inform each other. Toll prices will be higher at peak traffic times, a concept known as “variable pricing.” With both projects:

  • Drivers only pay for what they use.
  • Tolls help traffic move more smoothly.
  • Tolls provide a more reliable trip.
  • Toll prices will not be a surprise.

The Oregon Department of Transportation invites your input to make tolls work for our community.

Stay connected. 

Please follow along with us to receive updates on the Regional Mobility Pricing Project and the I-205 Toll Project and tell us what’s on your mind.

Urban Mobility Office Twitter | ODOT Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Office Hours second Friday of the month 9-10 a.m. click here to join the meeting

For more information and to sign up for email updates, please check out the project website or email the project team.

Si desea obtener información sobre este proyecto traducida al español, sírvase llamar al 503-731-4128.

Nếu quý vị muốn thông tin về dự án này được dịch sang tiếng Việt, xin gọi 503-731-4128.

Если вы хотите чтобы информация об этом проекте была переведена на русский язык, пожалуйста, звоните по телефону 503-731-4128.



For Americans with Disabilities Act or Civil Rights Title VI accommodations, translation/interpretation services, or more information call 503-731-4128,
TTY (800) 735-2900 or Oregon Relay Service 7-1-1.

The information in this document, and the public and agency input received, may be adopted or incorporated by reference into a future environmental review process to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.