PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Transportation laid out what work has already been done and what’s to come for Portland’s Urban Mobility Program.
The Interstate 205 improvement project and the tolling project will be implemented by 2024. These updates will happen on a 7 mile stretch between Stafford Road and Highway 213.
According to ODOT’s report, nearly 100,000 people drive this stretch of road every day. There were 900 crashes reported on the stretch between 2014 and 2018, which resulted in $10.9 million in injury and delays associated with it.
Further, the bridges on this stretch of roadway are not seismically stable. ODOT plans to improve the nine bridges and reduce congestion. The tolling will directly fund the improvements of this same freeway.
ODOT will be pricing all lanes near Abernathy Bridge and Tualatin River Bridges. The tolling will be all electronic.
Officials with ODOT say the changes are non-negotiable.
“205 is about 25 miles long in Oregon, and this 7 miles is the only section that has not yet met the standard for interstate travel in Oregon, which would be three lanes in each direction,” said Mandy Putney from ODOT.
The adjustments are needed as the highway is the way out of the city if a major earthquake happens.
People have a lot of questions about back street traffic and what freeway travel will look like as this all gets underway.
ODOT released data they’ve aggregated from the stretch of I-205 through Clackamas County. The department predicts tolling and the suggested improvements would eliminate northbound congestion and reduce southbound congestion to just 2 hours a day. Additionally, crashes would also reduce by 20%.
According to ODOT officials, they get a lot of questions about diversion — will our neighborhood streets begin seeing more traffic from cars trying to dodge the toll?
They think people will shift to public transportation or carpooling.
“We’re adding capacity which attracts people, we’re putting on a toll which makes some people want to do something else,” said Chris Wellander from ODOT. “Both of those forces come together and in some cases some time periods we are having people reroute off 205 and in some of the congested times they’re actually taking 205 because it’s a better option.”
ODOT is currently conducting an environmental assessment that should be available to the public by June of 2022.