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ODOT plans series of open houses to consider 'congestion pricing systems' in metro area

Community members are invited to share their concerns about congestion on area freeways and learn about tolling options being considered to deal with the problem at a series of open houses hosted later this month by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The tolling options — officially known as "congestion pricing systems" — are designed to help improve travel times and reliability on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 in the Portland metro area. Congestion pricing charges higher prices for driving on a road when demand is greater — in the morning and evening rush hours, for example. As a result, some drivers choose to travel on other routes, at different times of the day or on other modes of transportation.

The Oregon Legislature last year committed $5.3 billion to a wide range of transportation investments. As part of that package, lawmakers directed the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to pursue federal approval for congestion pricing systems along Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 from the state line in the north to where the two roads meet south of Tualatin.

The OTC established a Policy Advisory Committee to help inform its implementation of congestion pricing. It is scheduled to prepare a recommendation for the OTC this summer, and ODOT's community conversations will be among the information considered. By Dec. 31, the OTC will submit its value pricing proposal to the Federal Highway Administration.

ODOT's open houses will be informal, drop-in events, with project team members stationed throughout the room to provide materials, discuss the options and answer questions. Here is the schedule:

• Tuesday, Jan. 23 (4:30-7:30 p.m.): Clackamas Town Center Community Room (Level 1 near Buckle and across from Macy's), 12000 S.E. 82nd Avenue, Happy Valley;

• Saturday, Jan. 27 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.): Lloyd Center (Level 1 between Ross and the ice rink), 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland; and

• Tuesday, Jan. 30 (4:30-7:30 p.m.): Vancouver Community Library, 901 C Street, Vancouver.

In addition, an Online Open House will be active from Jan. 17-Feb. 5 at www.odotvaluepricing.org. Visitors to the website will be able to see materials, view video recordings of the project Policy Advisory Committee meetings and leave comments for the project team.

— The Review

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