Oregon Toll Program: February 2021 Newsletter - Second Edition

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In this issue:

  • You asked: What will tolls pay for?
  • Meet our intern: Francisco Ibarra
  • Results of the February advisory committee meetings

You asked: What will tolls pay for?

Tolls are essential funding for road improvements and multimodal investments.

Tolls in Oregon are vital to generating revenue and managing congestion, which will manage demand on the highway and make travel more reliable.

Toll funding is needed to complete the construction of the I-205 Improvement Project, which will make the corridor safer and less congested. The project includes critical seismic improvements to the Abernethy Bridge and eight other bridges, and adds a third lane in each direction along I-205 from Stafford Road to OR 213.

In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed a bill (HB 2017) that created a fund to collect money raised by tolls. The Oregon Constitution requires that the money from tolls is spent on roadway improvements such as adding car lanes, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, or related transit investments in or along the roadway. Examples of the possible uses of toll revenue include:

  • Developing and maintaining the toll system.
  • Specific projects, such as completion of the I-205 Improvements Project.
  • Roadway improvements such as multiuse pathways, highway widening, or bus-on-shoulder projects to make the transportation system work better.

In 2020, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) committed to investing net toll revenues in the corridor where they were collected. For the I-205 Toll Project, this means that net revenue collected from tolls in the I-205 area will be reinvested to fund projects in that corridor.

Projects funded by toll revenue are expected to enhance our safe and efficient transportation system for our community while making our common goals, such as spending less time in traffic, a reality.

Tolls are new for Oregon and we have a lot of work to do to determine how toll revenue will be used. As the I-205 Toll Project moves through the environmental review process, we look forward to engaging with you and the OTC to further define what improvements tolls will pay for.

Meet our intern: Francisco Ibarra

Francisco Ibarra, a Toll Program planning intern, is currently attending Portland State University for his Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. Francisco is from East Portland and has lived in Gresham for most of his life. Francisco knows the importance of collaborative planning with community members.

Francisco and his family.

1. Francisco and his family.

As a research assistant to the Toll Program Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee, Francisco attends meetings, listens to questions, and follows up with researched answers. Recently, he completed research on air quality monitoring related to transportation and health. He is ready to provide help to support the Toll Program and committee in every way he can.

“This project is directly related to my degree in urban and regional planning, especially given the equity focus on this project. Equity has been infused in a lot of the core classes in my degree.”

Francisco knows that a tolling program should engage and benefit the community where it is being carried out. He hopes the public will understand tolling is not just about vehicle drivers, and that toll revenue can improve our current transportation system. Because past transportation projects have left out and underserved certain communities, Francisco sees a way to create a tolling program that benefits communities that have carried most of the burden in the past.

Francisco said the internship has connected his academic learning with people who will be affected by tolls.

“It matters how you frame certain things to the community. As planners we can get caught up in our own world in terms of what problems we see and what solutions we see, that we sometimes forget we might have community members who see the same problem but have different solutions.” he said, “Reaching out to a small islander community in Rockwood was difficult, until we learned that they primarily use Facebook to connect. That was a community-led solution.”

These lessons remind Francisco to be genuine and transparent with community members, communicate what the project is trying to accomplish, and aim to reach equitable benefits. The Toll Program team is honored to have Francisco aboard and look forward to his meaningful contributions to the work.

Results of the February advisory committee meetings

Region 1 Area Commission on Transportation Meeting

On Monday, February 1, 2021, the Toll Program team presented to the Region 1 Area Commission on Transportation. They discussed developing tolling options that work for the region and addressed recent comments and concerns heard during the I-205 Toll Project comment period, including:

  • How and where toll revenue will be spent
  • Connection to the I-205 Improvements Project
  • Effects to neighborhoods and personal finances
  • Need for transportation options, including transit in the I-205 corridor

Responses to public and agency comments will be available in early spring 2021, as will schedules for moving forward with planning for tolling on I-205 and I-5.

The Commission will meet again April 5, 2021 and will continue their discussions on Oregon Toll Program development.

Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee Meeting

The Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee met February 3, 2021, to discuss equity performance measures and offer feedback on the Metro Regional Congestion Pricing Study.

Committee members will continue their discussion on equity performance measures at their next meeting on March 31, 2021. Performance measures will help the project team determine if engagement efforts are successful and inclusive and whether the toll projects meet equity and mobility goals described in the Equity Framework.

Watch the meeting recording for the full discussion. ​

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

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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.