We have a congestion problem through central Portland.
I-5 carries the highest number of vehicles and freight in the region. As traffic congestion increases, trips take longer and are less predictable, which impacts our quality of life and the regional economy.
From 2015 through 2017, the number of congested hours each day increased by 13% on freeways in the Portland metro region. And it’s getting worse. The 2018 Traffic Performance Report estimates by 2040 there will be a 35% increase in population and 1.8 million more vehicular trips per weekday traveling in or through the region.
Tolling is one tool among many ODOT is considering to improve our transportation system.
This project will consider tolling all lanes of I-5 through central Portland, a seven-mile stretch of road (tolling extents to be determined). This includes the most congested segments of I-5 through Portland.
The goal is to reduce congestion and provide a more reliable trip by encouraging drivers to consider other travel options or times of travel. If a small percentage of highway users choose another mode of travel or time of travel, traffic congestion is reduced for those who can’t modify their trip.
2018 Feasibility Analysis concluded tolling could help reduce congestion.
Oregon’s House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving, directed the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to develop a proposal for congestion pricing 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.
In 2018, the OTC and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducted the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis to study how and where congestion pricing 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 outlining the findings of the feasibility analysis and seeking approval to continue the process of implementing tolls on I-5 and I-205. In January 2019, FHWA provided guidance to move into the next phase of evaluation and study on the Congestion Pricing Program.
Start and end points for tolls along this corridor will be defined as part of the technical and environmental analysis. This will include:
- An evaluation of options and end points of the tolling area
- An assessment of the potential for diversion onto the surrounding street system, including Barbur Boulevard (OR 99W) in SW Portland, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in NE Portland and other streets
- An evaluation of existing transit service to accommodate new riders
- An evaluation of parking capacity at area park and rides
- Consideration of equity and mobility strategies to ensure all demographics receive travel benefits
ODOT is planning extensive public and stakeholder involvement to inform an equity framework, project development and community mobility and equity priorities.
Multiple strategies are planned to ensure the Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT staff hear a diversity of perspectives before decision-making on selected alternatives for both I-205 and I-5, equity and mobility strategies and, in the future, toll policies and rates.
Planned strategies include:
- Advisory Committee
- Equitable and focused engagement with people who have been historically marginalized and 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 (e.g. 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