Portland’s congestion pricing will be phased in

Along with some other Oregon Catalyst readers, I made it out to the ODOT building in downtown Portland this week to hear Judith Gray, the project manager of the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis, present their results to the Region 1 Area Commission on Transportation. There are many details that still need to be ironed out such as the actual pricing, what specific traffic goals they are trying to reach, revenue forecasts, and how the money will be spent, but there appears to be sufficient detail to ask the Federal Highway Administration’s permission to toll via Section 129 and Section 166.

One detail made clear is this policy change will begin with two small pilot programs, tolling the I-5 from NE Going Street down to SW Multnomah Boulevard and tolling the Abernathy Bridge on I-205.

This will then be expanded to the entire north-south interstate freeway system from their junction in Tualatin to their bridges over the Columbia River.

While there was time on the agenda for public comments, this meeting was primarily an opportunity for the Region 1 ACT members to ask questions and voice comments. Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas did an excellent job of conveying to ODOT his view that the revenue from these tolls needs to be devoted to expanding freeway capacity.

The next forum will be more geared toward public comment. The Oregon Transportation Commission is directly seeking your input on July 12th (next Thursday) at 4 pm in the Columbia Falls Ballroom of the University Place Hotel and Conference Center (310 SW Lincoln St; Portland). If you care about this issue, please join me and make your voice heard.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there