CRC Tolls Highlighted

According to the Trib, last week when the Columbia River Crossing staff gave the Metro Council an update, they indicated that tolls would be a required financing tool (amouts TBD) and that it might be necessary to toll I-205 across the Columbia as well.


12 responses to “CRC Tolls Highlighted”

  1. We should definitely toll people who choose to live in Vancouver but use Portlands infrastructure.

    If tolling 205 is necessary, than Im ok with it, although maybe Metro should consider a higher toll on I-5…. Say 5$ one way on I-5 and 3$ one way on 205.

  2. We should definitely toll people who choose to live in Vancouver but use Portlands infrastructure.

    We already toll the ones that work here. They are the 2nd largest block of people who pay Oregon income taxes. Better be careful not to drive them and their tax payments out.


  3. Income taxes don’t pay much for bridges and highways. As you note, gas taxes do and we can presume that many who live in WA purchase their gas there.

    And why would we want to subsidize people who chose to live outside of Portland when they work here? That is a free choice they make. Why should others have to pay for their choice to live far from work? I don’t like subsidies like this. I don’t need a bridge over I-5 to get to work. I should not have to pay for those who choose this option. If they want a new bridge to support their lifestyle, then they should help to pay for it.

  4. Income taxes don’t pay much for bridges and highways. As you note, gas taxes do and we can presume that many who live in WA purchase their gas there.

    No, but they pay for a heck of a lot of other stuff as Oregon’s second largest (3rd?) taxpaying group. Stuff like schools. Be careful what you drive away.


  5. First, we wouldn’t be driving them away. The jobs are in Oregon. They are driving to Oregon to work here. This is a personal choice that they make. If they want to live here, great. If not, they can find a job in Southern Washington and leave the jobs to Oregonians.

    In the meantime, why should we subsidize their lifestyle choice? Why should they not pay for what they use?

  6. Jim,

    I agree, we shouldn’t be “driving Vacouverites away”.

    However, they are the ones currently benefitting from the situation. They pay little or zero OR petroleum taxes (which pay for a good deal of I5 maintenence, and, theoretically, expansion)…. And yet I5, in terms of their commutes, is mostly in OR.

    And *they* want us to pay to expand/widen I5!

    The bridge is gonna be expensive….and Vancouverites are the ones using it. We need mobility in the I5 corridor….

    But correct me if I’m wrong but the best case price for the whole I5 corridor is around 4-6 billion including expansion and bridge.

    I don’t think OR taxpayers should have to put down 4-6 billion just to keep Vancouverites happy.

    What do you think Jim? Is there a better way to pay for the bridge than with tolls? We’d be taxing the users directly.

  7. Remember folks, Port of Seattle/Tacoma is bigger than Port of Portland. More cargo goes to SeaTac than to Portland. SeaTac International Airport is a bigger airport (including for cargo).

    Much of that cargo does come to Portland. No, most of it won’t go on a train (if not all of it, I doubt BNSF would really run such a short-haul intermodal train). So, you’ll be affecting more than just the “freeloading” Vancouverites that are paying income tax (and there is absolutely no proof as to whether Vancouver residents buy their gas more in Oregon or in Washington, so until there’s proof there’s nothing).

    The alternative is that most of these trucks will simply bypass I-5/I-205 (and their tolls), by taking U.S. 30 at Longview. Sucks to live in Rainier, I guess; but at least ODOT’s widening of the highway from Columbia City south to I-405 will finally pay off.

    Or, are we going to toll EVERY bridge between Washington and Oregon now?

  8. Tolls are pretty standard on the east coast. Some freeways are “free” and some (turnpikes) are tolled. New York City (well, Manhattan, anyway) can be entered by numerous bridges and tunnels — some tolled, some not.

    As far as I can tell, tolling doesn’t significantly discourage use of a road. All routes in and out of the City are jammed up during peak hours. People aren’t refusing to live or work in New York because they have to pay tolls to get in or out, and there doesn’t appear to be a crush of cars waiting to cross the “free” bridges while the tolled bridges remain clear.

    Put a toll on some of our bridges or all of them, and people will pay them. Yes, a lot of folks will scream and whine and bellyache at first, and a very small number will inconvenience themselves by going a ridiculous distance out of their way to avoid the toll — but nearly everyone will wind up buying the card or transponder that they need to breeze through the toll gate, and pay the extra couple of bucks a day to go where they wish to go.

    I suspect that tolling I-5 but not I-205 would shift a small amount of traffic to I-205 over the long haul — mostly made up of people for whom the choice is six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other when it comes to getting to their destination. The majority of drivers won’t want to spend an extra twenty or thirty minutes on the road just to save a couple of bucks at the bridge. The only way I-5 loses a lot of drivers to tolling is if the tolls are truly oppressive: $5 per crossing or more.

    And truckers aren’t going to go from the Interstate to Highway 30 just to save a couple of bucks at the bridge. They’ll take whatever route is the fastest. The time lost and the extra fuel consumed in a circuitous detour costs them way more than a bridge toll.

  9. Every bridge built across the Columbia except I-205 was paid for with tolls. I remember throwing 20 cents into the basket in the 60’s after the 2nd I-5 bridge was built. That’s about $2 today or $4 round trip.
    Of course any new bridge must be tolled; the question is will the feds allow tolling on I-205. I will wager a Yes on that.
    But meanwhile, if we tolled I-5 now, we would shift drivers to carpools, vanpools and transit AND have $ to build and operate MAX to Vancouver…no new bridge would be necessary.
    Rather ironic. Check out what happened in ’97 when we really applied ourselves to demand management in the I-5 corridor.

  10. Specialized infrastructure will undoubtedly be constructed to accommodate alternative modes of transport and possibly freight carriers if improvements and/or upgrades are made to the I-5 Columbia River Crossing. Therefore, “IF”
    motorists are charged tolls to cross the river when using I-5 or I-205, all other user modes must also be required to pay a toll. That includes transit riders (the toll can be paid through a surcharge on the fares), bicyclists, pedestrians and freight carriers, not just the drivers of personal motor vehicles. The tolling agenda as presented to Metro and supported by some individuals appears to be nothing more than a socially engineered pickpocket raid on motorists so other modes can have free ride and not pay their fair share of the infrastructure costs called for to upgrade the river crossing for all users.

  11. The majority of drivers won’t want to spend an extra twenty or thirty minutes on the road just to save a couple of bucks at the bridge.

    That may or may not be true. But it is also largely irrelevant. You don’t have to get a majority of drivers to change their behavior. Just a small minority will have a significant impact on congestion. Moreover, the question is the number of trips people take across the bridge. And people will stop taking low value trips – as valued by the person making the trip – as a result of a toll.

    There are three issues with tolls that need to be addressed:

    1) Social Justice

    The decision to pay the toll is a combination of the value placed on the trip, the value placed on the toll and the alternatives available to the person making the decision. People with limited resources are going to place a higher value on the toll regardless of how high a value they place on the trip.

    Adjusting the price of tolls can reduce and maintain a level of traffic that is desired. That benefits the people who are still paying the toll, but not the people who are forced to find alternatives. Since tolls alone will not pay the full cost of the bridge, if new capacity is added it is going to have to subsidized by everyone, even those no longer using the bridge because of the toll.

    You have a huge environmental justice issue if the tolls are dedicated to building the bridge. They should be used only to provide realistic alternatives for those who are forced off the bridge because they can’t afford or don’t choose to pay the toll. Otherwise, you are having everyone pay the cost of a private bridge to be used only by those who can afford it. Not only are the the folks no longer using the bridge still paying for it, but they get no benefit and are having to find alternatives for the trips they used to make.

    2) There are a large number of trips, mostly from eastern Clark County, where I5 and I205 are both realistic alternatives depending on traffic conditions on SR500, SR14 and I84. You can’t toll I5 and not toll I205 without putting huge pressure on the Banfield, Sandy and Columbia Boulevards.

    3) Vancouver residents pay Oregon income tax only if they work in Oregon. But if they didn’t work in Oregon, someone from Oregon would have that job and pay the income tax. And, if they didn’t live in Clark County, someone in Oregon would be selling them a house.

    Failing to expand I5 and I205 (its next on the agenda) will slow the growth of housing in Vancouver to some extent. But there will also be a corresponding increase in construction on the Oregon side of the river to meet the needs of people who decide that a smaller lot and fewer square feet is a price worth paying for an easier commute. Providing realistic alternatives for people to get from Clark County to work in Oregon will help to cushion the blow to construction and housing values in Clark County.

    The real issue is that the businesses that bring money and jobs into the region are in Oregon, while Clark County competes with the Oregon housing industry to provide housing to the employees of those businesses. The question is whether Clark County will be allowed to drown that golden goose in traffic congestion. Because, make no mistake, Portland’s vaunted livability is the golden goose.

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