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Frequently Asked Questions


Whether it's a business moving goods, a daily commuter going to work, or a parent taking their child to see a doctor, Oregonians rely on our transportation system to get to—and through—the metro region. Unfortunately, our transportation system isn't keeping up. Hours of delay and traffic congestion come at a high cost to individuals, businesses, and communities. Our system is vulnerable to a major earthquake, and we face a $510 million shortfall annually just to maintain the existing state system.

Now is the time to modernize our regional transportation system and the way we use it.

We are investing in transit, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities and changing how we manage roads for safety and traffic flow. Variable-rate tolling – also known as “congestion pricing" – is another necessary tool to fix our transportation system. Variable-rate tolls lead to more reliable trips and address traffic congestion in the metro region, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and fund bottleneck-relief projects. 

​We plan to use variable-rate tolls to manage traffic flow and improve roadway efficiency by charging a higher price during peak traffic periods. “Congestion pricing" or “value pricing" are other terms used frequently when describing this concept. The higher fee encourages some drivers to consider using other travel options (such as carpools or transit) or change their travel time to other, less congested times of the day, or not make the trip at all. If a small percentage of highway users choose another mode of travel or time of travel it can reduce traffic congestion for those who can't modify their trip and improve traffic flow for the entire system. In the Portland metro region, we are considering a predictable way of tolling where toll rates would vary according to a set schedule so that you would know the cost in advance.
The State of Oregon is exploring tolling as part of a comprehensive approach to better manage congestion in the Portland metro region. In​ 2017, the Oregon Legislature approved House B​ill 2017, known as Keep Oregon Moving. In 2021, the Legislature adopted another bill, HB 3055, which clarified and reinforced the transportation direction from HB 2017. These bills commit hundreds of millions of dollars to projects that will manage traffic congestion and improve the transportation system statewide, including improvements to highways, the freight network, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The bills also directed the Oregon Transportation Commission to pursue and implement tolling I-5 and I-205 in the Portland metro region for traffic congestion management and transportation improvements.

Neither the price of tolls nor the exact times of day tolls would be collected have been determined. We do know any tolls collected in the Portland metro region will vary according to a set schedule, and that tolls will be higher during peak travel periods. The Oregon Transportation Commission will set toll rates based on congestion relief goals, revenue needs, and public input. Toll rates are generally set about six months before tolls begin.
Tolling is a vital funding element for Legislature-directed priority projects in the Portland metro region. Toll revenue from the I-205 Toll Project is needed to complete construction of the I-205 Improvements Project, including seismic improvements and the extension of a third lane in each direction.

Toll revenue from the Regional Mobility Pricing Project would support implementation of the Toll Program, which includes the costs of project-identified mitigation. Revenue could also be used for operational improvements on I-5 or I-205, or adjacent facilities.

Toll revenue from the Regional Mobility Pricing Project could be an additional source of funding for projects and programs identified in existing planning documents, including:
  • Statewide Transportation Improvements Program
  • Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program
  • Local Agency Transportation System Plans
  • Regional Transportation Plan
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. In addition, the cost of projects or services needed to address negative effects of tolling could be paid using toll revenue. For example, if a local roadway was made less safe by drivers rerouting to avoid a toll, it could be upgraded with improved sidewalks, bike facilities and traffic calming measures to discourage rerouting and preserve neighborhood livability.  

No. Tolls would be collected electronically so drivers would not have to slow or stop. Tolling systems throughout the world use different collection methods, including the use of transponders (a device that collects tolls electronically as you drive) and license plate recognition technology. These systems usually connect to a prepaid account. The most appropriate technology for the Portland metro region will be determined at a later stage. Options for individuals without bank accounts will be studied to provide access to all.

Although there was a reduction in traffic on the highways during the first year of the pandemic, daily traffic volumes are already approaching pre-pandemic levels on major highways.

Tolling is needed to manage congestion and pay for improvements that will keep our highways safe and well-maintained into the future.

I-5 and I-205 carry most of the freight traffic in the region; these major freight routes experience the highest levels of congestion and unreliable travel times. From 2015 to 2017, the Portland metro region's population grew by approximately 80,000, and drivers experienced a 13% increase in hours of traffic congestion.

Tolls could start as early as 2024 on the I-205 corridor, near the Abernethy and Tualatin River bridges in Clackamas County. A final decision is expected in spring 2023 after we finish the environmental review.

For the Regional Mobility Pricing Project, which includes I-5 and other sections of I-205 in the Portland metro region, we are evaluating options to identify where tolling would begin and end. We anticipate completing this initial analysis in 2022 and then conducting a more extensive environmental review in 2023. The earliest tolling on these corridors could begin is 2025. ​
We are not currently evaluating additional corridors. Any future analysis of additional corridors would build on our current work on I-5 and I-205.​
Yes. The tolls being considered would apply to all drivers who use the highways during tolled periods, regardless of the state of residence, just as they are on other tolled facilities around the world. Users of tolled facilities would pay for the trip they take.
This is still to be determined. The Interstate Bridge will be replaced, and the concepts under evaluation assume the new bridge will be tolled. (For more information, go to interstatebridge.org.) Any tolls on the new bridge would be integrated into the tolling concept for I-5 so that users would not be overcharged when using both facilities.

The bi-state Glenn Jackson Bridge itself is not within the Project study area, but the segment of I-205 immediately south of the bridge is. We don't know if this segment south of the bridge would be tolled; that will be further studied in the current planning phase.

Users would be tolled each time they use a tolled facility and would pay only for the trip they take on I-5 and I-205. ODOT is working with the Interstate Bridge program administrator to make sure that project and the Oregon Toll Program are well coordinated. 
​We understand that transit options are currently limited along the I-205 corridor and in the region more broadly. Our transportation analysis looks ahead to 2045 and assumes all planned transit projects included in the regionally adopted transportation plan are implemented, so we can examine tolling's impacts on the multimodal transportation system.

ODOT is working with transit providers to enhance transit and other transportation services in areas where there are gaps, especially for historically and currently excluded and underserved communities. ODOT is examining the impacts of tolling on future transit service plans to develop potential improvements and adjustments to those service plans. ODOT also is coordinating with a technical advisory group on transit and multimodal travel options as well as the Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee to identify strategies for integrating transit and multimodal travel into the projects. If enhanced transit/multimodal service is found to be an appropriate mitigation solution, then ODOT can explore the use of toll revenue to fund the solution. 

Yes. ODOT is concerned with impacts to people experiencing low incomes. In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3055, which directed ODOT to develop a program to address these impacts. By September 2022, ODOT will develop a Low-Income Toll Report that will provide clarity to the Oregon Transportation Commission, the Oregon Legislature, and community members on how the I-205 Toll Project and Regional Mobility Pricing Project will address the needs of people experiencing low incomes. A draft report can be found online.

As part of this ongoing effort, ODOT worked with the Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee (EMAC) to develop recommendations for equitable tolling strategies that will inform the recommendations presented in the Low-Income Toll Report. Strategies under consideration include cash payment options for people without bank accounts and rebates or discounts for different income levels. The Oregon Transportation Commission, as the state's toll authority, will use input from affected communities and the EMAC to make decisions before tolling begins.


We know that some drivers currently use neighborhood streets to avoid congestion on highways. Drivers looking to avoid a toll could also change driving patterns onto non-tolled local streets. As highway travel becomes more reliable, and transit service more accessible, a positive result of variable rate tolling would be to reduce existing rerouting. Overall, the objective of variable rate tolling is to improve mobility by managing the highway for freight and longer-distance trips so that local streets can better serve shorter, local trips. We are currently doing additional analyses of rerouting and exploring solutions to rerouting impacts in partnership with local agencies and governments. See this FAQ for more information: “What are ODOT's plans for mitigating diversion to local roads and other highways caused by a toll project?"

​ODOT will identify solutions – also called mitigation – to reduce adverse impacts identified in the environmental review process.

The environmental review document for toll projects will include proposed mitigation strategies for areas identified to have negative impacts. Potential strategies could include improvements to transit and active transportation facilities (such as safer sidewalks or protected bike lanes), traffic signal improvements, and traffic calming measures. Following a comment period, a revised document with specific mitigation projects will be reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Once the FHWA approves the document, mitigation measures will become part of the toll project, and ODOT will be responsible for implementation.

The term "congestion pricing" describes a type of tolling that aims to improve mobility, travel times, and reliability by charging a higher price during peak traffic periods. This concept is also known as variable rate tolling. The higher fee—typically implemented along with transit and other multimodal improvements—encourages some drivers to consider using other travel options such as carpools or transit, or change their travel time to other, less congested times of the day, or not make the trip at all. When a small percentage of highway users choose another mode of travel or time of travel, it can reduce traffic congestion for those who can't modify their trip and improve traffic flow for the entire system.

Toll projects under consideration in the Portland metro region would use congestion pricing. Congestion pricing is a proven tool to manage congestion. About 40 congestion pricing projects are operating across the United States.

Yes. We are working to identify toll rates that minimize congestion and negative rerouting to local streets, maximize travel benefits for toll payers and local street users, and generate revenue for infrastructure improvements. Too low of a toll doesn't address traffic congestion, but too high of a toll leads to negative rerouting to other streets; therefore, fewer people gain benefits.

​Yes. Congestion pricing can be an effective tool for supporting climate change goals because it can encourage drivers to make different travel choices, and it can improve traffic flow. Both outcomes reduce emissions from transportation, which is one of our statewide goals in response to climate change.

Congestion pricing encourages drivers to choose other modes of transportation that generate less greenhouse gas emissions, like carpooling, public transit or biking. Pricing can also encourage drivers to drive less often or take shorter trips, which reduces emissions, too.

Congestion pricing on Oregon's busiest highways will also improve traffic flow, which leads to less idling in traffic and fewer vehicle stops/starts. This reduces emissions from all vehicles on the road by a small amount, but it is most beneficial for heavy trucks. Heavy trucks are less efficient than smaller vehicles, and they burn a lot of fuel to stop, start, and change speeds. Smoother traffic flow means trucks do this less often, which results in less greenhouse gas emissions.

We recognize that climate change is an urgent issue and threatens our quality of life and environment. The tolling program will consider greenhouse gas emissions during tolling project planning and will incorporate strategies to reduce emissions where possible.

Yes. We are assessing tolling alternatives based on how the regional transportation network will look in the future, not how it looks today. We are relying on Metro’s regional travel demand model for our analysis. The regional model assumes that transportation projects (such as the I-5 Rose Quarter Project and others defined in the Regional Transportation Plan) will be completed by 2045 – our future forecast year for the analysis. By relying on the regional model and Regional Transportation Plan, our traffic analysis will be consistent with projects and account for projects already underway or soon to be initiated in the region.​

The latest information about the toll projects is posted on the project website at www.oregontolling.org. Questions can be submitted at any time to the ODOT project team at oregontolling@odot.state.or.us.​​

   

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