An Oregon plan to implement tolling on heavily used interstate highways is running into more opposition from across the Columbia River.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who represents Clark County in Congress, announced her opposition to the potential tolling scheme that is part of the $5.3 billion transportation package Gov. Kate Brown recently signed into law.
The idea behind Oregon's plan is is twofold: Tolling I-205 and I-5 from the Washington state line to where the highways merge in Tualatin raises revenue that could help pay for road projects, and could also reduce congestion because people drive less when they have to pay to use roads.
But today, in a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, nine state lawmakers joined Herrera Beutler in seeking to block tolling on the bridges between the two states.
"74,000 Washington residents cross the border every day to get to their workplaces in Oregon," the letter says. "The Oregon transportation bill specifically states that revenue from tolling beginning at the state line will be used to improve portions of I-205 located south of Portland; in other words, infrastructure located miles away from the bridges that our constituents use."
The lawmakers want Inslee and the Washington Department of Transportation to get involved in discussions with their Oregon counterparts.
"It is a bad deal for Washington residents," the letter says. "It is therefore vital that the state of Washington takes a strong active role in the process as quickly as possible."
Bi-state disagreement on the proposed Columbia River Crossing played a role in the proposed replacement and augmentation of the I-5 bridge.
Among the many challenges that sunk the $2.8 billion deal in 2013 was a fundamental disagreement on including light rail on the new bridge: Oregonians wanted it and many in Washington did not.