Paying Twice for Oregon’s Roads

By John A. Charles, Jr.

A committee of the Oregon legislature will soon be traveling around the state taking testimony on how to pay for Oregon’s network of highways, bridges, and roads.

Since 1919, Oregon has relied on gas taxes for road maintenance, but costs are rising faster than tax revenues.

One option is to enact mileage-based user fees, also known as tolls. But Gov. Kotek recently shut down ODOT’s plan for highway tolling in the Portland area, due to widespread opposition.

Tolling would be more palatable for new facilities, but we never build any in Oregon.

Elsewhere, things are different. More than 60 express toll roads have been built in the U.S. over the past three decades, and they are highly popular with drivers.

Even the remote nation of Madagascar is building a four-lane, 162-mile tollway that will provide convenient travel to and from the nation’s capital. This will be the first toll road in Madagascar’s history.

Oregon drivers are willing to pay for the new roads we need. Just don’t ask us to pay twice for the lanes we already have.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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