One of the biggest concerns from local leaders still is about thousands of drivers cutting through communities to avoid paying tolls.
Currently, the plan is to put tolling in place by December 2024 on a section of I-205 between the Tualatin River Bridge and the Abernathy Bridge between the interstate’s Stafford Road and Highway 213 exits. The big picture is a plan to toll all of I-205 and a stretch of Interstate 5 in the metro area.
City and county leaders from Tualatin, West Linn and Oregon City say they haven’t seen any plan for how ODOT is going to try and stop drivers from getting off before the toll points and clogging up local roads from Highway 43, Stafford Road, Willamette Falls Drive and downtown Oregon City.
West Linn interim mayor Rory Bialostosky says the city’s concerns are not being heard by ODOT and is asking for more transparency on the tolling impact.
“The consistent response from ODOT has been ‘we’re just going to monitor what happens and then we’ll mitigate as we go.’ But as I always say, government can move pretty slowly, so we’re not really satisfied with the wait-and-see approach when it comes to our local neighborhoods and business districts potentially being extremely negatively impacted,” Bialostosky said.
ODOT’s director admitted his agency does need to provide details and that they’re still putting together their impact studies. But local community leaders say that if the toll is designed to reduce congestion on I-205, meaning fewer drivers will use it if they have to pay, those drivers will then clog up local roads that already see the impact during heavy commute times, or when there’s an accident on I-205.
ODOT is on record saying the tolling would start even before a third lane on I-205 at the Abernathy Bridge is built, another reason congestion wouldn’t ease up unless drivers opt out of paying the toll by cutting through communities.