The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners adopted values related to funding interstate projects in the region Thursday.
Chair Tootie Smith said it was important to be a leader in this discussion.
“Regional conversations are happening about how our transportation system will be funded that will significantly affect the residents of Clackamas County,” said Chair Smith. “We need to be a leader at the table and ensure the needs of our residents and businesses are represented.”
Depleted transportation funding at the state and federal level—due to declining gas tax revenue as vehicles become fuel-efficient—are leading to funding gaps in building projects on the interstate system to reduce congestion and improve seismic resiliency. In response to the declining transportation revenues and growing congestion, the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Department of Transportation to study and implement tolling for managing congestion through House Bill 2017.
ODOT is planning tolling projects within Clackamas County along Interstate 205 near the Abernethy Bridge – an area that has little transportation options other than driving.
Given ODOT has the existing authority to implement tolling and continues advancing the concept of congestion pricing tolls to manage congestion on interstates, a values-based approach, rather than a traditional support or oppose position, allows Clackamas County to be proactive and nimble as discussions continue.
The transportation funding values adopted by the BCC prioritize equity, safety, a vibrant economy, health and active communities, climate action, disaster resilience, and the reliable movement of people and goods.
Vice-Chair Paul Savas said,
“Most everyone is against tolling. No one wants to pay for something they believe they are already paying for just to go to work or take their kids to school. However, if the legislature insists on tolling or congestion pricing, Clackamas needs to be in a leadership position to assure our residents receive benefit for the toll they pay. These values should get us there.”
ODOT is nearing completion on the designs for the I-205 Widening and Seismic Improvement Project within Clackamas County, which will add a new lane in each direction of I-205 between Stafford Road and Highway 213, as well as upgrading the Abernethy Bridge over the Willamette River to withstand an earthquake. The Oregon Legislature is currently considering ways to finance project construction to begin early next year. As part of this effort, ODOT is pursuing tolling the project as a means of raising revenue, as well as using congestion pricing to curb traditional travel behaviors.