PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Elected officials from cities across Clackamas County are calling for the completion of the Regional Mobility Pricing Project prior to the decision of whether to toll I-205, and for Abernethy Bridge improvements to potentially be allocated using other funds.

Oregon City commissioners on Feb. 2 unanimously joined the regional call for ODOT and Metro to conduct “an extensive public campaign and interagency coordination to increase public acceptance of user fees and congestion.” OC would like state and regional officials to evaluate funding for the first phase of the bridge project and develop a working group to assess and respond to various potential impacts to communities from tolling. 

“We definitely need to do this — send a message, and all the cities I believe are in lockstep with this, including several of the county commissioners who’ve also expressed concerns,” said OC Commission President Denyse McGriff.

OC Commission President Denyse McGriff (PMG).

Lake Oswego and West Linn city councils also sent clear messages to the state to pump the brakes on tolling plans during meetings in January. 

The regional pricing project, which is a yet-to-be completed plan for tolling throughout the state, may not be finalized for a few years. At the same time, the state has identified tolling as the way in which it plans to pay for the I-205 improvements, including replacing the bridge and widening I-205 from four to six lanes (three lanes in each direction from two currently). 

Some of the concerns cities have about the current approach to tolling include: the impacts of traffic diverting onto local roads, opposition from the community, a lack of viable transportation alternatives and possible adverse impacts to diverse and low-income communities. 

“ODOT has failed to apply their own equity framework to analyze the impact of tolling on historically marginalized communities, particularly the elderly, low-income residents and Latino households who will be impacted by expected diversion,” the resolution from the cities said. “Diversion will substantially harm regional and town centers in Oregon City, West Linn, Tualatin and Lake Oswego, which are important to the region in managing future population and employment growth and creating vibrant communities.” 

ODOT recently tabled its request for official votes on whether to toll I-5 and I-205 in the next five years, but state officials have said they’re still committed to imposing tolls, despite widespread opposition. 

Pamplin Media Group reporter Corey Buchanan contributed to this report. 

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