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PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — ODOT has temporarily postponed its decision on tolling stretches of I-205 and I-5 in the next five years and will consider a request from Clackamas County for extra time to hash out regional congestion-pricing plans before tolls are implemented.
County Commissioner Paul Savas requested a delay in voting, originally scheduled for this month, on ODOT’s proposal to amend the Metro region’s long-term transportation plan and its required process for allocating funding to transportation projects.
ODOT’s delay allows the Oregon Transportation Commission time to review the county coordinating committee’s proposal to develop a comprehensive plan for answering "critical systemwide questions" regarding traffic diversion mitigation and funding decisions before bringing the state department’s proposed amendments to an official vote.
County officials are requesting that ODOT free up time for the comprehensive plan’s development by allocating bipartisan federal dollars to move forward on schedule with the I-205 Improvement Project‘s earliest phase, which consists of widening areas of the highway and modifying adjacent bike lanes, on- and off-ramps, and sound pollution infrastructure.
During a Jan. 11 policy meeting, Savas explained to colleagues and constituents that the comprehensive pricing plan could provide direction so that tolling impacts are felt more evenly throughout the Metro region instead of heavily concentrating in Clackamas County, as many residents have alleged will happen.
"We don’t want to Clackamas County to be first, or to be the guinea pig, so to speak," said Savas, the county commission’s representative on the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, which will vote on the proposed amendments.
County Commissioner Sonya Fischer expressed concern that the transportation commission may not take advice from Metro on implementing tolling evenly region-wide and referenced a bill proposed by Sen. Bill Kennemer that, if passed, could allow residents living within 15 miles of a proposed tollway to vote on whether to approve or reject the proposal.
Jamie Stasny, regional transportation and land-use policy advisor for the county, reported talks of a potential amendment to Kennemer’s proposal that would only enact the residential vote if ODOT tries to "toll one segment instead of the whole region."
County staff will return in front of the board with updates from ODOT and recommendations for next steps at a future session before ODOT’s proposed amendments are brought to a vote.
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