Oregon Transportation Commission approves finance plan for Urban Mobility Strategy interstate projects in Portland

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Brought to you by the Oregon Department of Transportation's
Urban Mobility Office

Finance plan for major changes to Portland projects moves forward for Governor Kotek’s review

Oregon Transportation Commission agreed there will be tough decisions ahead if tolling doesn’t happen


For immediate release: June 28, 2023 

For more information, contact Anna Howe
503-877-7101 or anna.howe@ODOT.oregon.gov

PORTLAND, Ore. — Today the Oregon Transportation Commission held a special meeting to discuss our draft finance plan for major Portland region projects such as the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, I-205 Improvements Project and the Oregon Toll Program. The commission approved the plan and the agency will now send this plan to Governor Kotek for her review. 

We refer to these major Portland-area projects as our Urban Mobility Strategy, which is a cohesive approach to provide solutions for congestion, improve safety, reduce greenhouse gases and address aging infrastructure in the Portland metro region. 

This finance plan was requested by Gov. Tina Kotek when she directed us to delay toll collection until 2026, recognizing that projects that were meant to be funded by toll revenue would be impacted by this delay. 

Tolling was always a central component of paying for these projects. The growing scope of these projects made it already difficult to finance with the revenue we currently have and could expect to have in the future. With tolling revenue now delayed, we face the need to manage our spending more conservatively.  

We presented the finance plan for consideration and approval from the commission before sending to Governor Kotek by our deadline of July 1. You can watch a recording of today's Commission meeting here. 

Options brought to the commission for discussion: 

  1. I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project: We proposed a baseline and two alternatives that each move the project forward. Each option identified a level of funding and the expected level of design work that could be completed with that funding. No options included funding for construction as that level of funding is not currently available to the agency.

    We heard consensus from the commission that there is still commitment to the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project and the Historic Albina community. The commission advised ODOT staff to move forward with the baseline which will provide roughly $40 million in further funding to bring the project to a higher level of design, making it more competitive for future funding opportunities.  
  2. I-205 Improvements Project: We proposed two options regarding the I-205 Improvements Project. The baseline includes indefinitely postponing the second phase of construction, which includes adding a missing third lane and seismic upgrades to a total of eight bridges. Construction on the Abernethy Bridge would continue, and tolls would begin in 2026 to repay the costs of the bridge. The alternative option envisions doing the above but would also include additional funding to replace the Tualatin River Bridge to make it earthquake ready.   

    The commission advised ODOT staff to move forward with the baseline option of finishing construction on the Abernethy Bridge, tolling at the bridge to repay the cost of construction, and indefinitely postponing phase two of the project. 

Toward the end of the meeting, Chair Julie Brown recognized the significance of this moment and the decisions ahead of us, especially the work still left to identify potential toll revenue.   

This is how we’re going to move forward for the time being unless given different direction. If the direction is that we’re not going to toll at all, then we’re going to have to pivot hard and make really difficult decisions,” Chair Julie Brown shared. 

Now that we have approval from the commission, we will submit this plan for Governor Kotek’s review. 



The projects of the Urban Mobility Strategy focus on removing bottlenecks on the interstate system, upgrading our roads and bridges to make them earthquake-ready, and using congestion pricing to pay for these upgrades and manage congestion.  

We originally developed many of these projects in response to House Bill 2017, passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2017. Since then, several key factors have changed, and project costs have risen as a result. These developments include:  

  • The scope of projects have grown in response to the needs and goals of our communities.  
  • High inflation across the nation in highway construction has driven up project costs significantly. See the Federal Highway Administration National Highway Construction Cost Index. 
  • Delays due to design refinements, environmental review, and lack of construction funding have further increased the cost of the projects.  

In today’s meeting the commissioners also voiced agreement that continued delays to construction projects will only further drive-up costs.


The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Urban Mobility Strategy is a cohesive approach to make everyday travel safer and more efficient in the Portland metropolitan region.

Urban Mobility Office

Matthew L. Garrett Building

123 NW Flanders St., Portland, OR 97209

Looking for a great job with a competitive salary and good benefits?
Want to help your community every day? Apply now at ODOTJobs.com.
Nothing quite fit? Check back often!