PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A plan to start tolling along Interstate 205 is getting a lot of heat from some local mayors and Oregon lawmakers.
There’s concern that the Oregon Department of Transportation is ignoring the impact on local communities. There could also be lawsuits to stop the toll plan.
One of the worries is rush hour will become much worse if tolling begins along I-205. Toll structures placed at the Abernethy and Tualatin River bridges could mean drivers would potentially divert onto local roads to cut through and avoid tolls then rejoin I-205 on sections where they wouldn’t have to pay.
West Linn and Oregon City leaders held a joint meeting Tuesday night to discuss the situation. They’re frustrated they’re not seeing solutions to avoid thousands of cars diverting off I-205 and creating gridlock. The mayor of each city told KOIN 6 News that they are reaching out to state lawmakers to push the pause button on this decision.
“We really don’t have any solutions from ODOT on how to solve that problem. It will not only affect Oregon City,” said Oregon City Mayor Denyse McGriff. “We are unfortunately going to take the brunt of it, and that’s our concern. We don’t want our downtown shutdown.
Lawmakers already started asking ODOT some tough questions at a committee meeting Tuesday night in Salem. Some lawmakers even brought up a lack of trust in ODOT.
The mayors also said they don’t want their cities to be the test cases for the idea of “let’s see how it goes” before all of I-205 and part of Interstate 5 is tolled in the metro area. KOIN 6 confirmed they are also exploring legal ways to try and block the tolling if necessary.
“ODOT does not necessarily have the greatest amount of trust for a number of people. So the idea that they are going to do something about it is not necessarily enough. You need to be much more direct and specific about how you are handling it,” said State Senator Lew Fredrick.