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.