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Office of Innovation

The Oregon Department of Transportation's Office of Innovation is nationally known for collaborations that support the high quality of life Oregonians value.


Oregon is preparing for a future where Automated Vehicles​ travel safely on Oregon roads. Automated vehicles are vehicles that use sensors and computer systems to drive themselves, either partially or entirely.

​Oregon began exploring road usage charges, or charging a per-mile fee instead of the gas tax, in 2001. Now we have OReGO, the nation's first road usage charge program​.

​The 2017 Oregon Legislature requires the Oregon Transportation Commission to develop a proposal for tolling on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 from the state line to the junction of the two freeways just south of Tualatin, with the stated purpose of reducing congestion. Our office in Portland (Region 1) is in charge of that directive. We encourage you to visit the website​ for more information.

In the meantime, the Office of Innovation is investigating the technology and back-office functions of tolling, such as capturing data from vehicles, processing the data and completing the billing cycle. Our staff has called other states to learn about their tolling systems, lessons learned and more. We’ve discovered common themes in these conversations, such as challenges with contract management, high administrative costs, interoperability issues and clunky tolling technology. This got our staff thinking: What if we designed the system around user needs, rather than simply replicating what is being done in other states?

Oregon is entering the tolling conversation at a time when people and infrastructure are becoming increasingly connected to vehicles. Here in the Office of Innovation, we’re already working on connected and automated vehicles and associated technology, and we’re leading the way in road usage charging; now we’re working “behind the scenes” to complement the work our Portland office is doing on value pricing.

What we’re doing at the Office of Innovation 

As the Portland region is evaluating the best location for value pricing, we are investigating whether the state could create a system in which users could leverage the technology they activate or decide to put in their vehicles to pay tolls. An open system like this one could make paying tolls as convenient as possible to the driver. 

The Office of Innovation has contracted with WSP to investigate a potential open system, and is working with ODOT staff all over the agency to develop tolling system requirements. In late 2018, Office of Innovation will present the costs, benefits, risks, and timing to develop either a conventional system or a more open system to the Oregon Transportation Commission. 

Oregon supports electric vehicles​ through partnerships that create strong infrastructure.
The Oregon Innovative Partnerships Program was created by the legislature to develop partnerships with private entities and units of government that will expedite project delivery, maximize innovation in project development and leverage public funding with private resources.

The enabling statute defines a transportation project as “Any undertaking that facilitates any mode of transportation in this state.” This broad and highly flexible authority can be used to pursue projects that apply to highways, bridges, rail, ports, ancillary facilities, telecommunications, and more.

To become a project, the Oregon Transportation Commission must make a formal finding that doing so will “…have the potential to accelerate cost-effective delivery and promote innovative approaches to carrying out the project.” ODOT can use the program to design customized procurements to solicit project proposals, or it can accept unsolicited proposals from private firms or units of government.

The program enables private partners to participate in earlier developmental stages of projects instead of traditional design-bid-build project delivery methodologies. It also allows projects to be selected based on best overall value instead of having to go with the lowest bid. There are even provisions for entering into direct negotiations with private firms in certain circumstances.

Some of the most important provisions of the program envision public/private partnerships governed by negotiated agreements. The program is exempt from most of public procurement restrictions in ORS Ch. 279 that can be time consuming and cumbersome.  There are important protections for sensitive business and financial information governed by administrative rules. It also requires consultation with affected local government entities and that projects be consistent with local and state transportation plans.

We have used the Innovative Partnerships Program to investigate and pursue a wide variety of projects ranging from privately financed toll roads and electric vehicle fast charge stations to fiber optic infrastructure and high-speed passenger trains.  The program is an important tool in our toolkit to be able to respond nimbly to transportation improvement opportunities as they arise.

​Connected vehicles​ are expanding travel options and have the potential to increase safety.

Our Mission

We partner with internal and external organizations to identify, assess and promote innovative services that advance our multimodal transportation system in this fast-changing transportation environment. We do so by seeking out new developments and developers that can lead to opportunities and change at a system level, and by:

  • Creating avenues for cooperation with private industry.
  • Developing policy and processes that can realize the value of these innovations.
  • Collaborating with internal groups to ready the agency for long-term implementation

Our Guiding Principles

  • Collaboration is our middle name. 
  • We recognize that significant innovation is happening across ODOT in many business groups.
  • We foster shared sponsorship for our initiatives within the agency, and establish measures of success that help to align our goals with larger agency priorities.
  • We have proven expertise with the procurement process provided by ORS 367.800.824.
  • We are agile in our exploration of new opportunities, helping stakeholders to efficiently use resources and expertise and make timely decisions

Contact Us

Interim Office of Innovation manager
Jenna Adams-Kalloch
Emerging Technology Policy Lead
Connected, Automated Vehicles and Electric Vehicles Advisor
OIPP Program Manager
Kathryn Jones
Project Manager
Randal Thomas
RUC West Administrator

Media Contacts
Michelle Godfrey
Connected, Automated and Electric Vehicles
Shelley Snow
Office of Innovation

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