PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Transportation is planning on offering low-income options as it moves toward adding tolls to some highways in the Portland area.
With tolls expected in the next few years, ODOT says it’s working to alleviate some worry from low-income households. That plan includes lowering costs.
“We’ve heard a lot of concerns about how people experiencing low incomes are going to pay the toll,” said Mandy Putney, Director of Strategic Initiatives with ODOT’s Urban Mobility Office. “We really want to do this right. We’re grateful for the guidance of our advisory committees, made up of members of underrepresented communities, which have helped us center equity and mobility.”
Officials say they are also considering offering toll discounts like credits and free trips. Another option is a verification process that uses self-certification or low-income service programs that already exist.
The toll projects were proposed as a way to reduce traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions and raise revenue for future transportation investments. These investments include upgrading current infrastructure to better withstand the long-awaited Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
The Interstate 205 Toll Project, the Regional Mobility Pricing Project, and the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program are all in the works.
In 2023, ODOT says a Statewide Toll Rulemaking Advisory Committee will provide input on potential rules for customer accounts and proposed rates for the I-205 project. Using those recommendations and a report, the Oregon Transportation Commission will determine toll rates and rules.
The tolling is set to begin six months after this with I-205 tolling anticipated to begin in 2024.