The I-205 Toll Project will use variable-rate tolls on the Abernethy and Tualatin River Bridges to raise revenue to complete the I-205 Improvements Project and manage congestion.
Our outdated transportation system requires us to take action and make improvements. We are investing in transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities and changing how we manage roads for safety and traffic flow. Tolling is another necessary tool to fix our transportation system. Tolls will bring more reliable trips and address congestion in the Portland metropolitan region, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and fund bottleneck relief projects. We know Oregonians across the state need to get to and through the Portland metropolitan region – and right now our regional transportation system isn't keeping up. Hours of delay and congestion come at a high cost to individuals, businesses, and communities. In 2020, the traffic counts declined with the COVID-19 pandemic but are now back to about 90% of pre-pandemic levels and expected to return to 2019 levels as the economy improves.
Tolls can help manage congestion and provide a more reliable trip by encouraging drivers to consider other travel options or times of travel. A large change in trip making isn't needed for significant benefits, even a small decrease in the number of people trying to get on the highway will have travel time benefits for those who can't modify their trip.
I-205 Improvements Project and Toll Revenue
Funding for seismic, safety, climate and congestion improvements has not kept pace with inflation. Tolls are one tool to fund improvements in our transportation system.
The first phase of the I-205 Improvements Project is the construction of the Abernethy Bridge. This will make the Abernethy Bridge the first earthquake-ready highway bridge across the Willamette River. These initial improvements, called Phase 1A and scheduled for construction in late spring/early summer 2022, will use financing tools recently approved by the Oregon Legislature. Toll revenue is needed to complete construction of the remaining phases of the I-205 Improvements Project, which will address the bottleneck caused by the last remaining two-lane section of I-205. Without tolls and future roadway upgrades, the almost seven hours of daily congestion and safety risks will continue to grow as more people use the highway. Diversion to local streets will also increase when the interstate has stop-and-go traffic.
ODOT has worked with the community since 2017 to design the project and received strong support to construct the project. Project construction is estimated to cost about $700 million. Over the past three years, ODOT explored state and federal funding sources and determined other funding sources are not available; toll revenue will be critical to completion of the I-205 Improvements Project.
Learn about I-205 Improvements: Stafford Road to OR 213.
The proposed I-205 Toll Project would toll I-205 near the Abernethy and Tualatin River Bridges to raise revenue for construction of the planned I-205 Improvements Project and manage congestion between Stafford Road and Oregon Route 213 to give travelers a better and more reliable trip.
How electronic tolling works: Tolling on I-205 would consist of an all-electronic system that would automatically collect tolls from vehicles traveling across the Abernethy and Tualatin River Bridges. Drivers will not stop to pay a toll. A transponder, a small sticker placed on the windshield, is read and connected to a pre-paid account. If a vehicle doesn't have a transponder, a camera captures the car's license plate, and the registered owner is billed.
Alternatives Under Review
We are studying two alternatives as part of the formal environmental review process. Four other alternatives were considered in 2020 and 2021 and found to provide fewer benefits. They were dropped from the analysis.
Alternatives currently under review are:
The “toll" alternative (previously known as Alternative 3): Bridge Tolls on the Abernethy Bridge and Tualatin River Bridge
- Tolls to cross bridges over the Tualatin River and the Willamette River.
- Split toll amount between two locations.
- Through trip pays more than local access trip.
- The earliest tolling could begin is in 2024.
- Toll revenue is used to fund the I-205 improvements Project from OR 99E to OR 213 (Phase 1B), 10th Street to Sunset Bridge (Phase 1C), OR 43 to 10th Street (Phase 1D), and 10th Street to Stafford Road, including Tualatin River Bridge reconstruction (Phase 2).
- Variable-rate tolls used to manage congestion.
No Action Alternative: No toll would be applied and only the Abernethy Bridge and interchanges (Phase 1A of the I-205 Improvements Project) would be constructed.
- Benefits would not be realized to help manage congestion or raise revenue for transportation projects.
- Generate revenue that will help pay for roadway improvements in the I-205 corridor
- Manage the more than 7 hours of daily congestion on this portion of I-205
- Improve travel time and increase reliability and efficiency for all I-205 users
- Reduce risk of rear-end crashes
- Reduce air pollution from idling vehicles in congested conditions and increase fuel efficiency with less stop and go traffic.
Revenue generated by tolls could help pay for the approved improvements on the corridor, known as the I-205 Improvements Stafford Road and Oregon Route 213 Project. This is the only two-lane segment on I-205.These improvements include seismic upgrades to the Abernethy Bridge and eight other bridges on I-205 and the extension of a third lane in each direction. ODOT completed the environmental review for the I-205 Improvements Project in 2018. Construction is slated to begin in 2022.
Learn about I-205 Improvements: Stafford Road to OR 213.
2018 Feasibility Analysis concludes that tolls could be effective to manage congestion
Oregon's House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving, directed the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to develop a proposal for tolling on I-5 and I-205 to reduce congestion as part of a suite of transportation investments throughout the state for roadway improvements, transit service enhancements and bicycle and pedestrian safety upgrades. The OTC and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducted the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis to study how and where tolls could be applied. Substantial public input and a Policy Advisory Committee informed the final recommendations.
In December of 2018, the OTC submitted a proposal to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) outlining the findings of the feasibility analysis and seeking approval to continue the process of implementing tolls on I-5 and I-205. FHWA provided guidance to move into the next phase of evaluation and study on tolls.
In 2020, stakeholders commented on the I-205 Toll Project and stated the need for a comprehensive approach to tolling, but expressed concerns about fairness, equity, climate and diversion. To address these concerns, we expanded our approach to consider regional tolling on I-5 and portions of I-205 not included in the I-205 Toll Project, consistent with the long-term vision of the identified in the Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis.
See more information on the Regional Mobility Pricing Project website.
We are in the environmental review phase, which began in 2020. Following a public comment period in summer-fall 2020, the I-205 Toll Project is moving forward with an analysis of the two alternatives. This phase includes:
We want to hear from you
Your involvement helps us build a toll program that benefits the entire state and meets our collective needs. ODOT is actively seeking extensive public and stakeholder involvement to inform, project development and community mobility and equity priorities.
Multiple strategies are underway to ensure the Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT staff hear from community members in the Portland metro area including Southwest Washington before making decisions on selected tolling alternatives for equity and mobility strategies and, in the future, toll policies and rates.
In addition to the Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee, other planned strategies include:
- Equitable and focused engagement with people who have been historically and are currently underrepresented and underserved or who have low incomes
- Broad public and community engagement with both in-person events and online tools
- Briefings to and collaboration with existing regional policy groups (For example, Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, Region 1 Area Commission on Transportation)
- Technical work groups made up of regional staff to review methodologies and analytical results that incorporate stakeholder input
As the I-205 Toll Project continues to move forward, ODOT is offering live webinars and other digital opportunities to speak directly to the experts. Sign up for project updates to find out about upcoming events. Summaries public input will be posted online.
Tolls could begin on I-205 as early as 2024. The process to implement a toll program requires substantial analysis, public input, construction, testing and driver education before the system can be operational.