State Advisory Group Votes for Tolls on Portions of I-5 and I-205 in Portland

It's the first step in a long process for approving tolls in the metro area.

Traffic in Portland's Rose Quarter (Daniel Stindt)

An advisory committee voted today to recommend a plan to add tolls on a portion of Interstate 5 as well as on the Abernethy Bridge on I-205.

That's a slight revision from a consultant's recommendation last month for a toll on all I-5 lanes from the Northeast Going and Alberta Street exit to Southwest Multnomah Boulevard.

The Abernathy Bridge toll was added as a strategy to fund the construction of a third lane on I-205 between 99E and Stafford Road.

The committee supported the more limited tolling plan as a pilot project but also recommended eventually adding tolls on all of I-5 and 1-205 from the Columbia River to West Linn.

North Portland residents were not happy with the plan that moved forward today, fearing that drivers avoiding tolls would cause traffic in the Overlook neighborhood, among others.

Related: North Portland residents fear the latest plan for highway tolling will divert rush-hour traffic onto neighborhood streets.

A majority of the committee favored starting with the pilot project. The idea of skipping the pilot program and going straight for tolling the whole region was only slightly less popular with the committee, supported and opposed by an equal number of committee members.

The city of Portland has pushed for the full tolling plan immediately.

The recommendation is just a small step in what promises to be a very complicated project. Before the tolls are up and running, they must be approved by the federal government. The state will also need to come up with a system for tolling the roads as well as improving public transit and other approaches.

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