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Congestion Pricing

Congestion Pricing Overview

An Option for Addressing Our Congestion Problem
We have a congestion problem in the Portland metro area. As traffic increases, trips take longer and are less predictable, which impacts our quality of life and the regional economy. Congestion pricing is one tool among many actions ODOT is taking to improve our transportation system. Our goal is to help more people travel when and where they need to travel.

Oregon’s House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving, directs the Oregon Transportation Commission to develop a proposal for congestion pricing on I-5 and I-205 from the state line to the junction of the two freeways just south of Tualatin, to reduce congestion. The Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis is studying how and where congestion pricing could be applied. Learn more about the congestion pricing technical analysis.

What is Congestion Pricing?

Congestion pricing works by placing a cost on the use of the highway during rush hour and other periods of heavy traffic, providing a choice between paying a fee for faster highway travel, or choosing to take a trip at a different time with a lower fee, carpool, travel using a different mode of transportation, take a different route, or not make the trip at all.

  • No toll booths: Congestion pricing would not require people to stop at toll booths. Technology that identifies cars with transponders or reads license plates in a manner that does not compromise privacy would allow you to pay a toll without slowing or stopping.
  • Variable rates: The cost of the toll will vary depending on how much traffic is on the highway. During periods of high traffic, the toll will go up. When traffic is light, the toll will go down.
  • Better travel options when you need it: Congestion pricing will give people the choice for a faster highway trip when they really need it—like when they need to get to work, a medical appointment, or pick up their child from school or daycare. Successful congestion pricing programs around the world are usually combined with transit improvements to provide additional travel choices for those not wanting to pay the toll.
  • The primary goal is to improve travel: Any funds raised from tolling will go first to pay for implementing the tolling system. If there is additional revenue left over, it must be used for roadway improvements, as mandated by Oregon state law.
  • Effective: Numerous examples from the U.S and around the world show congestion pricing can work to improve traffic conditions. Seattle drivers saved an average of 26 minutes every day in 2016 with their express toll lanes on I-405

Download the project fact sheet.

Read answers to frequently asked questions

Developing an Equitable Plan That Reflects Our Values

The Oregon Legislature directed the OTC to seek approval from the Federal Highway Administration no later than December 31, 2018. If FHWA approves, the OTC is required to implement congestion pricing. The OTC created a policy advisory committee to ensure a diversity of perspectives inform the OTC's final proposal to the FHWA, and reflect our values around transparency, inclusiveness and equity. The PAC, in conjunction with a comprehensive public input process, has helped identify the most viable option for the Portland metro area. 

View the full recommendation of concepts to advance for further analysis submitted to the OTC on July 5, 2018. 

The OTC intends to evaluate congestion pricing options that will address congestion through one or more of the following means.

  • Managing congestion: Value pricing used to manage demand and encourage more efficient use of the transportation system by shifting trips to less congested times or designated lanes through pricing and/or maximizing the use of other modes to improve freeway reliability.
  • Financing bottleneck relief projects: Value pricing used as a means to finance the construction of roadway improvements that address identified bottleneck projects that will improve the efficient movement of goods and people.

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