Tolling on I-205

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Do you know about it? What do you know about it How will your life be impacted by it? What can you do about it?

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has proposed a toll on all lanes of traffic on I-205 from Stafford Road to the Abernathy Bridge and the reverse, with different tolling amounts for different times of day, with morning and evening commute times having the highest toll.

This Oregon Department of Transportation map shows the location of the first section of Interstate-205 the agency plans to toll in the future. ODOT has stated it would like to toll both I-205 and I-5 throughout the Portland metro area after that.
This Oregon Department of Transportation map shows the location of the first section of Interstate-205 the agency plans to toll in the future. ODOT has stated it would like to toll both I-205 and I-5 throughout the Portland metro area after that. Courtesy/Oregon Department of Transportation

Your Tualatin Chamber of Commerce has joined with the Clackamas County Chambers of Commerce to provide the voice needed to tell ODOT to pause and address the concerns of the business and residential communities who will be most affected by this change. This partnership of Chambers states that we unanimously stand in opposition of tolling (congestion pricing) as it is currently proposed. We would like to share with you the concerns expressed by our community’s business owners, workers, and residents in opposition to the tolling program as it has been presented.

Tualatin’s economy is mainly comprised of business owners and employees who travel into the area via the two main Interstate systems: I-5 and I-205. Each day, 94% of Tualatin’s workforce travels into the city using these roadways, over 28,000 people in total. 4,000 of those daily commuters come directly from the Clackamas area, at least 14%, which is equal to the number of commuters from the cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, and Sherwood combined.  (-ODOT 2019 survey data). Our business community supports 50% of our tax base. What happens to businesses if employees can’t or won’t come to work in Tualatin because of the impact of Tolling?

Due to this dramatic ebb and flow of drivers into our Tualatin community, there are several known chokepoints which have an immeasurable negative impact on our local businesses. One of the most concerning examples being the Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, located on the corner of Borland Rd. & 65th Ave. During peak travel times (7-9am, 4-6pm) it is nearly impossible for staff, customers, and patients of the Medical Center to travel to and from the facility due to the current level of traffic diversion from I-205. 

A Legacy partner shared: We have two main concerns regarding the tolling along a portion of the I-205 corridor to fund the Abernethy Bridge project and variable rate tolling to relieve congestion. First, we believe the current side roads surrounding our campus will not adequately handle the diverted traffic that often accompanies a tolled roadway. This will hinder emergency and private vehicle access to our campus. Second, we see this as a potential barrier to attracting employees that would have to pay a toll on their route to work.

Tualatin Auto Body, a longtime family-owned Tualatin business says: The proposed toll would significantly increase the cost of getting to work for over 16% of my work force. It would also increase the cost for a lot of the vendors in our industry. Most of the warehouses for parts and supplies for our industry are on 205 between the airport and Clackamas.

Pacific Metal Company, one of Tualatin’s large industry leaders, has concerns: We have several individuals that use 205 on their way to work.  The financial impact to them will definitely be felt since they use 205 on a daily basis.  Most of them will be traveling during both rush hours morning/afternoon and from what I understand, the busier 205 will be, the higher the toll. 

Ed Casey, Ibach CIO President and 49 year Tualatin Resident: As far as tolling goes, I’m against it as it might add additional cars on our already bottlenecked roads.  Also, this is particularly focused on SE Washington County and western Clackamas County.  It will make commuting to/from Tualatin harder (no bus service of note here) and more expensive. I’m truly disappointed in our county and state governments that think throwing tax dollars on a problem will make things better. There is a better way, I’m sure.

Our State elected officials sent a letter to our Congressional Delegation and had this to say: The current proposal for tolling I-205 will lead to more local traffic congestion, reduced road safety, and increased costs to everyday Oregonians; it is fundamentally unfair to our constituents and local businesses, and it will not help create the regional tolling program that OTC aims to establish. For these reasons we are united in our opposition to the current tolling plan.

They continued: This plan will divert more vehicles from I-205 onto our local streets, generating significant traffic and safety problems. We are concerned for the reduced safety of families with young children, seniors and those with disabilities. Our local roads and infrastructure, which already experience significant diversion, simply will not be able to handle the additional influx of traffic from I-205 when it is exclusively tolled. Our concerns around the negative impacts to local traffic and safety – combined with the disproportionate financial burden placed upon our constituents and local businesses by this project – is a real problem that continues to go unaddressed by the Oregon Transportation Committee.

Given there is no confirmed, measurable data to assure our Tualatin residents and business owners that these diversion issues will be mitigated by the tolling project, we are concerned that situations such as we’ve mentioned above would be compounded by drivers’ circumventing the toll installation.

We have urged the Oregon Transportation Commission and the Oregon Department of Transportation to pause and revisit the intended mission of their organizations; to support the residents, business owners, and workers of the communities they serve through beneficial projects and initiatives that improve quality of life. It is clear this tolling program does not meet these standards, causing more harm than good to those who drive our Tualatin economy.

Think about these concerns:

  • Surges of diverted traffic into neighborhoods will increase risk of accidents, jeopardize pedestrian safety, increase the carbon output in neighborhoods and increase wear and tear on roadways with no consideration for repairs and maintenance.
  • Inequity in affordability for all commuters. Many residents can barely afford the rising price of gas, let alone be charged additional fees to use the roadways – which are already being taxed by the gas tax we pay now.
  • Lack of alternative transportation; affordability and risk of job loss; freight mobility and the cost of getting goods to market will go up; no transparency in spending.

What can you do? Whether you are a homeowner, renter, business owner or commute to or from another city for work, we need and want to hear how tolling will impact you. Would you write a letter to the ODOT Committees letting them know your concerns? Would you testify at an ODOT meeting? Challenge them to answer your questions. They need to hear your personal story and they need to respond now proactively and affirmatively to citizen concerns. To include any written comments or questions for the Chamber, please send to chamber@tualatinchamber.com. For more tolling information, the ODOT website is: Oregon.gov/odot/tolling.