The Oregon Department of Transportation is looking at tolling the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 highways.   It could cost drivers as much as $2.00 to use these highways (KGW-TV 2/20/22). Most of the revenue from the $2.00 tolls would not go towards building new roads, but rather to fund maintenance on existing roads.

ODOT believes Oregon’s gas tax (the nation’s 12th highest) and auto registration fees (the nation’s 5th highest), are not bringing in enough money to fund road repair.


In 2017, politicians passed a 10-year $5 billion dollar road tax which included:

* 10-cent gas tax hike
* Payroll tax to pay for transit
* Brand new car sales tax
* nation’s first bike tax
* 25% truck tax increase
* Auto title and registration fee increase

Despite this new $5 billion in new transportation taxes and despite $3.8 billion in new transportation funding from the 2021 Federal Infrastructure Bill, the State is back asking for more money in the form of tolling.   Other states use tolling to build new roads, build new bridges or create express fast-lanes. Under ODOT’s and the politicians’ plans, tolling would mostly be used for repair of roads already built.

Another important ODOT goal of implementing tolls would be to reduce traffic by charging people to use the highways, and to charge them more during rush hour. This ODOT plan would force people to use alternative transportation like bicycles and bus service which has seen declining use.

ODOT is currently soliciting testimony on whether any such toll should be a flat rate or a higher rush-hour rate during drive time.  You can comment to ODOT directly below.


Economist Bob Clark recently wrote about the problems facing the current tolling structure:

“ODOT’s tolling scheme is highly objectionable because the people setting the toll rates would be not directly and independently elected for that responsibility. Instead, ODOT wants to have people appointed to set the toll rates, and some of them are not so much interested in improving the mobility of folks by optimizing traffic flow. Some of these appointees despise other people (other than themselves) driving cars, and they aim to set tolls much higher to get people off the roads and thereby coerce them into riding a failing and slow-moving public transit system incapable of ever providing the mobility that individual automobiles are able.”


The idea that tolling rates would be decided by unelected staff and not the voting public or their elected representatives is an issue of concern.


Learn more or comment

ODOT Tolling website is here.

A comment form has been made available on the ODOT website.

Public comments and questions (always be succinct and courteous) may be sent via email to [email protected].