Readers Respond: Tighten budgets, but don’t toll freeways

March 19, 20240

85% against tolling; 2% undecided

Mar 18, 2024

Your Oregon News asked readers in an unofficial survey where they stand on halting the toll plan.

This comes after Gov. Tina Kotek said she plans to halt tolling work indefinitely, but it should still be expected someday.

About 85% of readers responded that they are against tolls on Oregon’s freeways, while about 14% said they are in favor of tolls. About 2% said they are undecided on the matter.

Our readers responded that 33% use freeways multiple times a week; 25% use freeways often or every day; and 16% use freeways seldom.

Many readers said they pay enough taxes already, they want it to feel fair, and government entities should tighten up budgets and use existing money wisely.

Some said tolls could be a good funding source for transportation infrastructure, while others said raising the gas taxes and taxing EVs could be a way forward. Mileage and vehicle registration taxes also came up.

Here’s what readers have to say about the latest strategy to pause the toll plan and fund infrastructure:

Reader: “Are you asking for more taxes/fees? Make do with what you have, like I do every day!”

Reader: “Stop spending all money on bicycle lanes.”

Reader: “Are Oregon’s tax revenues mismanaged? Absolutely. But, you must divorce these issues or nothing moves forward. Electing fiscally responsible leaders should fall outside voter-approved funding mechanism decisions. Why am I getting a historically massive kicker at the same time ODOT has funding shortfalls? Budget and spend better. Should ODOT commissioner be an elected position?”

Reader: “Charge EV drivers for the increase destruction those vehicles bring to roads and the environment (their weight, lack of safe recycling once their useful life is done, tire wear).”

Reader: “Have a miles driven per vehicle charge instead.”

Reader: “Toll the I-5 and I-205 bridges where traffic can’t divert to surface streets.”

Reader: “Just send out a vehicle registration tax bill just like the one used for property taxes. No pay, no sticker.”

Reader: “Use property taxes and cut waste.”

Reader: “The fairest approach would be an increased gas tax in Western Oregon and Washington, say a dollar more a gallon and the money may only be used for vehicle infrastructure. If you want to toll for specific improvements, then there needs to be a strict, transparent timeline for how long the tolling period lasts and the money is only used for that specific improvement. If you’re going to toll to improve the Abernathy Bridge, the toll should be instituted before northbound 205 users get to the Stafford Road exit to prevent drivers from taking Borland/Willamette Falls Drive as a work around, and prior to the Oregon City exits for southbound drivers. It looks like in just rolling for the Abernethy Bridge, you all are putting politics ahead of sensible funding solutions, frankly.”

Reader: “(Generate revenue) by vehicle licenses through the DMV. It could be tied to counties, where the county is far away from a freeway it should be exempt.”

Reader: “It’s already there. Gas taxes. Cut other spending on unnecessary road improvements for bikes. The roads are for cars. We are a car driving society. Build the roads and maintain them.”

Reader: “Reduced spending in other areas, and use the money you already get wisely.”

Reader: “Pay per mile one flat rate for all Oregonians. And a gas tax that is an increased rate for out of State vehicles. Stop increasing DMV and DEQ fees; they are so high that many low income drivers are unable to come up with the significant expense total to keep their vehicles legal essentially causing poor people to become law breakers.”

Reader: “Along with how they are funded now states need to start taxing EVs that use the road but pay no gas taxes. Also ODOT like other govt agency’s need to cut the fat off their public employees and PERS. That’s where majority of money goes.”

Reader: “We pay so much in taxes already — control government spending so that our money isn’t wasted.”

Reader: “A mileage tax seems fair, but only if it is possible to tax out of state drivers using our roads.”

Reader: “Gas tax, extra tax for electric cars to make up for the loss in gas tax, toll (in form of a yearly license) for commercial trucks.”

Reader: “Continued gas taxes coupled with introduction and measured ramp of a mileage tax that would cover gas taxes as they decline over time.”

Reader: “Raise the gas tax as needed.”

Reader: “EV road tax. Take a hard look at DOT employees’ numbers. Do we really need them all. Get rid of METRO and use salary money for roads.”

Reader: “It should already be paid from all the taxes they are all ready collecting. Maybe the state needs to due a true audit of all services of where money is actually going.”

Reader: “How about a toll from Washington into Oregon?”

Reader: “Vehicle operators who use road infrastructure should pay a substantial portion.”

Reader: “Remove the “kicker tax credit” those tax funds are wasted in the pointless bureaucracy of back-and-forth payments when the funds should be in a rainy-day fund to pay for need infrastructural improvements such as this. The massive revenue from cannabis sales could have easily been structured from the beginning to have been applied to this and similar infrastructural improvements along with education.”

Reader: “Quit giving massive tax breaks to corporations like Intel.”

Reader: “Look for other resources.”

John Ley

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