ODOT Says Households Will Pay $575 a Year in Its First Round of Tolls

March 9, 20231

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D. Feb 22, 2023 (Cascade Policy Institute)

This next week is going to be a big week for Oregon’s off-the-rails tolling projects. On Tuesday, the feds released their “Environmental Assessment” for the I-205 tolls. On Friday, a statewide toll advisory committee is meeting. Next Monday, a regional toll advisory committee is meeting.


In the Environment Assessment, the Oregon Department of Transportation reveals some eye-popping numbers:

  • Toll payments on just the I-205 project will be $132 million a year; and
  • Households will pay an average of $575 a year in tolls.

If you think this sounds like it’s bad for the economy, you’re right. ODOT projects the toll project will cause job losses, reduce labor income, and have close to zero effect on economic output.

ODOT has finally shown its hand: Its I-205 tolling project will make the region noticeably worse off. It’s one thing to collect $132 million a year in tolls to make life better, but it’s an entirely different thing to impoverish families and stifle businesses with nothing to show for it.

Now is the time for your voice to be heard. ODOT is seeking comments on its Environmental Assessment, and the Monday meeting has set aside time for public comment.

Our policymakers need to hear from you. It’ll be too late once the toll booths go up.

Statewide Toll Rulemaking Advisory Committee (STRAC):

  • Friday, Feb. 24, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Participants can watch the YouTube livestream.
  • STRAC meeting materials can be found on the project website.
  • Email comments on specific STRAC agenda items to
    oregontollrules@odot.oregon.gov with “STRAC Public Comment” in the subject line.

Regional Toll Advisory Committee (RTAC): 

  • Monday, Feb. 27, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • In-person participants will meet at EcoTrust, 721 NW 9th Avenue, Portland, in the Billy Frank Conference Room.
  • Online participants can join via Zoom webinar or by phone at 360 209 5623 (local) or 877 853 5257 (toll free). Participants can also watch the YouTube livestream of the meeting.
  • RTAC meeting materials can be found on the project website.
  • Email comments on specific RTAC agenda items to oregontolling@odot.oregon.gov with “RTAC Public Comment” in the subject line.
  • At RTAC meetings, time will be reserved for both online and in-person participants to provide verbal comments to the committee during the meeting for up to two minutes per speaker.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.


John Ley

One comment

  • Sue Kalt

    March 16, 2023 at 10:13 am

    I have no idea why they wanted our input. They already made up their mind. Tolling will not relieve congestion and any predictions or projections over 5 years are bogus, since there are many factors that will influence outcome. When I took stats we were told that anything over ten years is pure folly.

    I for one will not take that slow Trimet and be late for appointments and work. Those times I’ve had to take Trimet, you cannot plan anything else on that day. Even short hops take forever. If the Steel Bridge is up, good luck getting to an event, conference, or to work in a timely manner. What normally takes 45 minutes by car (on a day with congestion) and 15-20 minutes (no congestion), takes over 1.5 hours by Trimet. I won’t even mention the horrible conditions on Trimet — filthy seats, scratched out windows, unhoused individuals sleeping on the seats (occupying 4 seats plus their dog). It takes me 20 minutes to walk to my nearest MAX stop so I can go downtown. Even in downtown where need to go, it still takes 15-20 minutes. The stops are few and far between and add to that rainy, windy weather. I also have to carry items for my job. I guess the planners only think we hop on and off without carrying anything with us, just our lunch satchel?

    I will not go by bike — my knees cannot take it. This is a classist, elist, ableist, and ageist approach to doing what I call the “money grab.”

    I also want details on how they will charge us for the privilege of going to work, to doctor appointments and to run errands. I do not trust any entity to dip their hands into my bank account. How will they bill me? I want to know the price/cost of traveling to work so I can budget. I don’t like surprises. That’s like going to a store with no price tags and the cashier charging you whatever they feel that day. That is not acceptable from any entity. Tell me the cost upfront so I know what things will cost. Banish variable pricing. Flat fee so I can budget the few coins I have left in my pocket from all this inflation. They call it a toll, I call it a tax on working people.

    In addition, all that tolling will increase prices for goods and services — that will affect those transportation costs that get factored into those goods and services. Don’t kid yourself about that one.

    They have already decided. They don’t want our input. They are just going through the motions.


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