ODOT considers tolling 7-mile stretch of Interstate 5 through downtown Portland

(Photo courtesy Tristan Fortsch)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Transportation is looking at tolling a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 5 near downtown Portland.

The plan is still in development, and the state says it's too early to say how much this could cost drivers. It will be at least five years before any tolling begins.

ODOT says it's still ironing out where the tolling would begin and when to start charging drivers.

The current plan looks at putting tolls on I-5 from the Alberta Street Exit to south of downtown at the Multnomah off-ramp.

The preliminary plans also call for a toll along I-205 near the Abernathy Bridge at Oregon City.

Transportation officials considered tolling only one lane, allowing drivers who are willing to pay a toll to breeze through, but studies showed that wasn't feasible and wouldn't reduce traffic.

“How we can look at putting individuals in other modes, so that there's not so much heavy dependence on the highway system which obviously creating the congestion issue that we're facing today,” said Alando Simpson of the Oregon Transportation Commission.

The commission will look at how to improve public transit to Portland's suburbs, so drivers have other options besides paying the toll.

The toll commission is likely to sign off on the plan next week.

It will then go to the federal government, where they will decide if the early plans for tolling should be further developed.

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