Talk of new gas tax, tolling, auto fee for $7B bridge

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

The Oregonian reports on the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee draft budget to replace Oregon’s Interstate 5  Bridge over the Columbia River,  “The plan proposes bonding against $700 million of state highway user tax revenue from the Oregon Department of Transportation, including fuel taxes, weight-mile taxes for freight trucks and vehicle registration fees. The remaining $300 million would come from state general obligation bonds to be authorized this legislative session…She said the state will also have to look for new revenue sources and would study potential changes to its weight-mile and fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees. She said as more Oregonians buy electric vehicles and revenue from the gas tax decreases, legislators would look at modifying the formula for charging drivers to make sure everyone is paying.”

The Oregonian concludes by saying “Even if lawmakers agree to the $1 billion spending plan for the new bridge, planners still must secure billions more in order to move forward.  In addition to $1 billion each from the Oregon and Washington state budgets, the project will rely on a yet undetermined amount from crossing tolls and massive grants from the federal government to cover the bridge’s estimated $7.5 billion price tag.”

Lawmakers are looking at a $7.5 billion bridge project.

Washington State has floated a refiner fuel gas tax so it doesn’t look like a gas tax.

In Oregon, they are talking about the gas tax and tolling.

This could lead to a gas tax increase, and the fact that they want this funding settled in the next four weeks, shows you that taxpayers will not know until the last minute what is going on.

As mentioned in the article, it could be that electric vehicles get the brunt of a new tax as they do not contribute generally to the gas tax.  It is odd that Oregon has subsidized electric vehicles by over $50 million of taxpayer dollars, only to lose gas tax revenue forcing politicians to raise new taxes on the electric vehicles they just subsidized.  Don’t forget also, ODOT is pledging to spend $100 million to create electric vehicle charging stations across Oregon.

As for tolling, ODOT said they need to erect a massive tolling scheme in Oregon to fix a half-billion hole in their budget, but now need tolling to help fund a $7 billion dollar bridge.

Raising the gas tax would be tragic.

Oregon lawmakers just raised about five years ago a $5 billion dollar transportation package (gas tax hike, auto fee hike, new car sales tax, new transit payroll tax, truck tax hike, new bike tax).   None of that $5 billion apparently was set aside to replace Oregon’s most important bridge.

Where is the billions from Biden’s Infrastructure package?  That helped send up to $3 billion for infrastructure projects in Oregon.  Where is that money?  How much of it will actually go towards infrastructure?

Roughly ten years ago, ODOT wasted over $200 million to study the I-5 bridge replacement and it never happened. Now the bridge is nearly doubel the cost.

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