PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Plans to charge drivers to use Oregon freeways could be hitting a road block. Opponents are pushing to get a measure on the Oregon ballot that could prevent freeway tolling. An anti-tolling group is working to get signatures for a constitutional amendment that would block tolling unless approved by state and county voters.
The group called Vote on Tolls just sent out thousands of letters to people who live in area that would be impacted by tolling as the idea continues to move forward for parts of Interstate-5 and Interstate-205. The state is looking into establishing tolls in two areas specifically—near the Rose Quarter of I-5, and a stretch of I-205 by the Abernathy Bridge near Oregon City.
The No Tolls Oregon Pac led by former state lawmaker Julie Parrish said a big concern over tolling is that drivers will divert through neighborhoods and other streets that are already congested.
“All of those roads are congested,” said Parrish with the Vote on Tolls Campaign. “People will get off 205 to avoid those tolls and will take back roads and increase congestion.”
Organizers want to get Initiative Petition 10 on the November ballot. In order to do so, they need to get 149,000 signatures by June. Signature gathering pages were included in the group’s letter mailing initiative.
However, the measure would allow the state to toll any news roads that the Oregon Department of Transportation builds.
“What the Speaker of the House Tina Kotek and the Governor are proposing is to toll our entire freeway system, giving voters no new lanes and no new routes—that’s a problem,” said Parrish.
There is also talk of Salem expanding toll areas to include most of those freeways in the metro area. ODOT said it has a commission that is studying the impact of tolling on side streets, the financial hardship for some drivers, and what the tolling would actually look like.
While discussions about tolling highways are ongoing, the tolls themselves are not around the corner for Oregon drivers. The state first must get approval from the federal government before moving forward with tolling.