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About Tolling and Pricing



Tolling in Oregon
In 2017, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2017, known as “Keep Oregon Moving.” This bill committed hundreds of millions of dollars in projects that will address our congestion problem and improve the transportation system in the region and statewide. HB 2017 funded bottleneck relief highway projects, freight rail enhancements, improvements to transit, and upgrades to biking and walking facilities. The Legislature also directed the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to pursue and implement tolling on I-5 and I-205 in the Portland Metro region to help manage traffic congestion.

What is a toll?
A toll is a user fee. In this context, a fee imposed to drive on a road or bridge. Bridge tolls and roadway tolls have been used for centuries mostly to pay for construction and maintenance of the facility. Historically, travelers had to stop and pay a flat fee in cash to use the bridge or road. Often, large trucks paid a higher toll, but every driver paid the same amount regardless of time of day.

Variable Rate Tolls 
Fees to use a road or bridge can vary based on time of day and can be a strategy to shift demand to less congested times of day. A higher fee is charged during peak periods, such as morning or evening “rush” hour and a lower or no fee when there is little traffic. The idea is to provide an incentive for those with flexibility to avoid the busiest time of day. Charging different toll rates based on the volume of traffic is referred to by many names, including: congestion pricing, value pricing, variable pricing, variable rate tolling, peak-period pricing, or market-based pricing. The concept behind variable rate tolling is an economic tool used to manage supply and demand. It has been used in many industries outside of transportation as a way to smooth out demand.

Variable rate tolls can manage traffic on the highway resulting in faster, more reliable and predictable trips. Successful variable rate tolls or pricing programs make limited highway space more efficient by encouraging the use of other modes of travel or different trip times. 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.

Features of Modern Tolling Systems
With advances in technology, roads can be managed with user fees to both improve traffic flow and raise revenue to pay for transportation improvements. 

ODOT's Primary Goal is Improved Travel on I-5 and I-205
With a toll, ODOT helps meet the goal of improved travel by managing traffic flow and helping to raise revenue for infrastructure improvements. The Keep Oregon Moving legislation (House Bill 2017) established a Congestion Relief Fund, which would receive any net proceeds from tolling. The Oregon Constitution (Article IX, Section 3a) specifies that revenues collected from the use or operation of motor vehicles is spent on roadway projects, which could include construction or reconstruction of travel lanes, as well as bicycle and pedestrian facilities or transit improvements in or along the roadway.
 
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