There are many reasons to oppose tolling on roads taxpayers have already paid for with their gas taxes. Oregon hopes to implement tolls on ALL area freeways, beginning “at the border” with Washington. This will create “roads for the rich” or “Lexus lanes” where only the wealthy can afford to regularly use them.
Oregon will initiate its first “test” of tolling on the I-205 Abernethy Bridge project. Unlike most other projects that toll only “new” lanes and vehicle capacity (I-405 in Seattle), Oregon will toll ALL LANES. Drivers won’t have a choice other than diverting on to side roads.
The Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) program wants to charge “double tolls” – one for using a new replacement bridge, and then a second toll once you touch down in Oregon for the privilege of continuing your drive on I-5 into Portland.
Here are a few reasons to oppose tolling, in no particular order.
- TOLLS are hugely inefficient. In Seattle on I-405, fully 43% of money collected went to the “cost of collection”. Furthermore, due to pandemic lockdowns, the Washington legislature has had to bail out state tolling facilities for the past two years because tolls collected did not cover the cost of collection.
- Gas tax has under a 1% cost of collection. Over 99 percent of funds go to road maintenance, repairs, and is available for new construction, etc.
- A new report indicates the SR-99 tunnel (Big Bertha) in Seattle will be in the red for the next 30 years and require outside funding from the legislature.
- Traffic diversion will be horrendous. The ODOT “Value Pricing” PAC reported that once tolls were implemented on all Portland area freeways, (I-5, I-205, I-84, I-405, OR 26, and OR-217), there would be 130,000 vehicles each day diverting on to side roads and in to neighborhoods as people tried to avoid paying the tolls. This becomes a huge safety issue.
- Tolling is regressive. It harms the poor the most. They can least afford the tolls, and often have the least flexibility in when they travel.
- The “variable rate tolls” charge the highest amounts when roads are full of congestion. This “congestion pricing” hopes to reduce demand. Yet IBR forecasts indicate that by 2045, the number of vehicles traveling zero to 20 mph during rush hour will DOUBLE. Fully HALF of rush hour traffic would be stuck paying the highest tolls during rush hour congestion in both the morning and the evening.
ODOT is telling people this is about “behavior modification”. Since when is it government’s job to modify people’s behavior? Doesn’t ODOT believe in freedom? Apparently it’s only freedom for the rich.
The Abernethy Bridge project will add one new lane in each direction for 7 miles on I-205. ODOT precincts that this 50 percent increase in vehicle capacity will reduce traffic congestion from 14 hours a day to just two hours a day. See what ADDING CAPACITY can do! Why won’t the IBR add vehicle capacity to the I-5 corridor?
The IBR team projects that travel times will DOUBLE on I-5 by 2045. It takes 29 minutes today, to travel from the Salmon Creek interchange (I-5/I-205) to the Fremont Bridge. They predict it will take an HOUR to make the same trip in 2045, after spending $5 billion for the IBR and another $1.4 billion for the Rose Quarter project. Neither will add new through lanes to I-5 to relieve traffic congestion.
The No Tolls Army in Oregon has collected enough signatures to submit the initial petition to the Secretary of State. A broader effort will begin once it certified by the Oregon SOS. You can follow the effort here at Votebeforetolls.com.