The transportation agency and its consultants will conduct modeling of the different tolling scenaries. None of the models are intended as formal proposals, they say.

OREGON DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - David Ungemah, transportation consultant with WSP, during a meeting of the Portland Region Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee meeting Dec. 7, 2017, at the Oregon Department of Transportation office in PortlandThe Oregon Department of Transportation will conduct modeling of seven tolling scenarios along Interstates 5 and 205 to see how the variations would affect travel times and traffic in nearby neighborhoods in the metro area in the next 10 years.

The work is the next step for a regional committee charged with coming up with recommendations for how to toll Portland-area freeways. The committee's goal is to offer a plan that would help manage vehicle bottlenecks and raise funds for road improvements.

A $5.3 billion transportation-funding bill, passed earlier this year, required the Oregon Transportation Commission to consider tolling in the Portland metro area. It is not required to implement tolling.

The committee is scheduled to submit recommendations by June. The decision on a tolling scheme rests with the transportation commission.

It's unlikely that the tolling methods would be uniform along the two interstates, as segments of the freeways have different geographic obstacles, said David Ungemah, a consultant with New York-based transportation engineering and management firm WSP USA.

Options include tolling all lanes of the freeways, tolling an existing lane, possibly in segments; or constructing an additional lane to toll, Ungemah said.

The tolls could be priced at set amounts or dynamically according to congestion or time of day.

The seven scenarios to be modeled are:

1) Both interstates would be tolled on all lanes in both directions;

2) Both interstates would have one existing lane in each direction converted to a toll lane;

3) Both interstates would have a lane constructed in each direction that would be tolled;

4) I-5 would have no toll lanes and I-205 would have one additional lane constructed in each direction that would be tolled;

5) I-5 would be tolled on every lane in both directions; no tolls on I-205;

6) I-5 would have one existing lane in both directions converted to a toll lane; I-205 would have all lanes in both directions tolled;

7) I-5 would have one existing lane in both directions converted to a toll lane; I-205 would have one newly constructed toll lane added in both directions.

ODOT also will analyze how traffic patterns would change on the interstates in the next 10 years if no tolls are imposed.

The modeling will reflect road improvement planned in the next 10 years, said Travis Brouwer, ODOT assistant director.

None of the scenarios are formal proposals, Ungemah said.

Members of the committee and the transportation commission intend to hold several public hearings before deciding on a final plan.

The commission also would determine toll rates and exemptions. Toll booths would not be used to charge drivers. Instead, the agency would use transponders to register a charge and license plates identification to send bills to drivers without transponders, Brouwer said.

"That's how Washington's system works."

Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau
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