By Shane Hoffmann
Wilsonville residents, specifically those in the Charbonneau community, aren’t happy about an Oregon Department of Transportation proposal to add a tolling station to the Boone Bridge along I-5.
A result of 2017 legislation, the I-205 Toll Project will include tolling stations throughout the I-5 and I-205 highways to reduce congestion and open up freeway capacity potentially starting in 2025. Funding from the tolls is expected to be used to support the addition of a third lane on I-205, among other freeway improvements.
The proposal does not feature toll booths, but, rather, automated electronic collection stations to avoid slowing traffic, according to Urban Mobility Office Strategic Initiatives Director Mandy Putney.
The stations would use congestion pricing, also called “surge” or “value” pricing, which adds a surcharge based on time of day and the level of congestion correlated with a driver’s trip.
“Tolling is not a familiar experience for a lot of folks in this area,” Putney said.
Gary Newbore, a Charbonneau resident and the president of the Charbonneau Country Club Board of Directors, is worried tolling would disproportionately affect those in his area. He said he and many of his neighbors use the Boone Bridge — their only route to get into the city of Wilsonville — seven-to-10 times per week for groceries, gas and other services.
“We’re asking the state and ODOT to either move the tolling station north or south of the city of Wilsonville, or give residents of Charbonneau a waiver of some kind because that is basically our lifeline into the city,” he said.
Despite ongoing requests that residents with concerns share their thoughts via a comment form, Newbore said they haven’t heard from ODOT.
“At this point, we don’t know whether the state is going to march on and ignore comments or whether they’re going to take our comments seriously,” he said. “I’m very nervous about the outcome.”
Putney said ODOT is still in the planning phase and that, come September, the department will begin a formal review guided by the National Environmental Policy Act. She said nothing is set in stone and encourages those with concerns to continue sharing them.
“Overall, we hear a lot of questions and concerns — and many of those we don’t have answers to yet, because we haven’t done the analysis,” Putney said. “That’s the next step, is to really do the detailed traffic analysis and evaluation of benefits and potential impacts at the community level as well as system-wide.”
On Sept. 8, Putney will be making a presentation to the Wilsonville City Council before meeting with the Charbonneau board later that afternoon. Newbore said the city of Wilsonville has been a strong ally. They’ve helped the concerned Charbonneau residents form their arguments, review strategy and draft letters.
“The city of Wilsonville does not want to see their city split either,” Newbore said. “The city’s been extraordinarily helpful to us.”
To learn more about the project, visit the website.