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Oregon Department of Transportation Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee Recommendations and Public Comment

PORTLAND – At its final meeting, the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee recommended congestion pricing concepts for the Portland metro area for further traffic, revenue and environmental analysis, along with mitigation and other priority policy issues. A report of the PAC’s recommendations will be submitted to the Oregon Transportation Commission in early July for consideration before the commission prepares a proposal for the Federal Highway Administration in late 2018.

All meeting materials and a video of the entire meeting can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Get-Involved/Pages/Value-Pricing-Committee.aspx

Value pricing, also known as congestion pricing, is a type of toll that aims to reduce traffic congestion with user fees that are higher during more congested times of the day. The goal of congestion pricing is to get the most out of the existing system by encouraging some people to travel at less congested times or to choose an alternative mode such as transit, carpool, bicycle, or walking. The result is reduced congestion and more predictable travel times.

Following significant discussion, a majority of PAC members supported or accepted the following elements of the recommendation to the OTC:

  • Any congestion pricing program should include strategies to improve public transportation, contain provisions to assist environmental justice and low income populations, and minimize negative effects of freeway diversion onto local roads.
  • Congestion pricing pilot projects should be moved forward through the implementation process on both I-5 near the central city (known as concept B) and I-205 near the Abernethy Bridge and Stafford Road (known as modified concept E) to study effectiveness of congestion pricing in this region.
  • A two-tier approach should be used that starts with tolling discreet segments on I-5 and I-205 as pilot projects before moving ahead with tolling larger portions of the two corridors as part of a larger scale phased implementation and planning effort.

Approximately half of the committee supported starting with broader initial implementation of tolling on all lanes of I-5 and I-205, as opposed to the two-tier phased approach. In addition to the recommendations of pricing concepts and mitigation strategies, the PAC suggested that the OTC conduct planning of more system-wide feasibility of congestion pricing and planning for adding capacity to accommodate regional growth in a congestion pricing environment. The committee also agreed that net revenue from tolls collected in the region should be used to improve the transportation system in the region.

The PAC was charged with developing a congestion pricing recommendation on I-5 and/or I-205 in the Portland-Vancouver metro area for the location, type and mitigation strategies for tolling. The Oregon Transportation Commission was directed by the Oregon Legislature to develop the proposal as part of House Bill 2017, a package of investments to address congestion and make other multimodal transportation investments in Oregon.

A public comment period on the PAC’s recommendation is now open through July 20 to inform discussion by the OTC over the next several months. The commission wants to hear from the public. Comments may be sent via the comment form on the website at www.ODOTValuePricing.org.

In addition, the Oregon Transportation Commission is scheduled to hold an open public comment session on congestion pricing July 12 at 4 p.m. at University Place Hotel and Conference Center, 310 SW Lincoln St., Columbia Falls Ballroom, Portland, OR 97201. The public may sign up to comment between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m at the event where each person will have up to three minutes to speak to the commission.

More information and a form for questions and comments may be found at: www.ODOTValuePricing.org.