PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Responding to local citizens and politicians who say that their concerns with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s proposed tolling system on Interstate 205 have gone unheard, Gov. Tina Kotek has delayed all ODOT tolling until January of 2026.
Previously scheduled to begin in 2024, state lawmakers announced on May 1 that the project was pushed back and a new special subcommittee for transportation planning was formed to better incorporate community feedback into the rollout of the proposed tolling system.
“In order to make sure that any tolling program is carefully considered and incorporates the feedback from impacted communities, Gov. Kotek is responding to the calls of the legislators and pausing all toll collections until January 2026,” Representatives Annessa Hartman (D-Gladstone), Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville) and Jules Walters (D-West Linn) announced in a joint statement on Monday.
While ODOT eventually plans to toll all of I-205 and a stretch of I-5 in the Portland metro area, the introductory phase of ODOT’s expansive, new I-205 tolling system is planned to start with one tolling section between the Tualatin River and Abernethy Bridges.
Wanting answers for how ODOT plans to prevent a dramatic increase in street traffic caused by toll dodgers skipping this segment of the highway by pouring into the surrounding neighborhoods, Clackamas County sent 36 pages of input to ODOT on April 20. The letter questioned the methodology and conclusions of ODOT’s environmental assessment report published in February.
The representatives called the decision a “big win” for toll-impacted communities.
“I know firsthand that our communities have not felt heard by ODOT, and that they feel their deep concerns were being ignored by the agency,” Hartman said “Since being sworn into the legislature, I’ve advocated fiercely in the capitol for our voices to be heard and for ODOT to pause, listen to our constituents and get this right. There is a lot of trust that needs to be rebuilt and I am proud to serve on this committee to give our districts a seat at the table.”
Moving forward, the newly formed transportation planning subcommittee will be tasked with overseeing ODOT’s tolling project, focusing on public safety, traffic mitigation, pollution, the local economy and addressing the concerns and needs of the surrounding communities in relation to the proposed tolling system.
“Families and local leaders in our communities have been justifiably frustrated with ODOT’s behavior,” Rep. Walters said in the joint statement. “This committee will give a voice to those frustrations, and the pause will give us time to ensure the agency hears them.”
Reps. Hartman, Walters and Neron introduced the House bill that Kotek ultimately approved to delay the tolling project and establish the special subcommittee. The bipartisan bill was co-sponsored by a group of 31 legislators.
ODOT spokesperson Anna Howe told KOIN 6 News that the agency plans to release a statement in response to the recent legislation later on Tuesday.