The public can weigh in on whether the state should use congestion-priced tolls on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 in the Portland metro area.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is scheduled to hold three public hearings on tolling Tuesday, Jan. 27 and Jan. 30 in Clackamas, Multnomah and Clark counties, and will accept online public comments between Wednesday and Feb. 5.

The initial hearings are intended to gain the public’s experiences with congestion and views on congestion-priced tolling.

In March, ODOT will hold additional hearings where the agency will present specific tolling plans for public comment. The agency is conducting modeling for seven tolling scenarios. None of the scenarios are formal proposals. The modeling is designed to show how different choices could affect traffic patterns and communities and tolling revenues.

Variable-rate tolling, also known as “congestion pricing” or “value pricing,” describes tolling methods designed to improve traffic flow. The methods charge higher prices for driving on the interstates when demand is greater, such as during rush hour. Other cities, such as Seattle, have found such tools are effective in improving traffic conditions and providing more reliable travel times, according to ODOT.

A 26-member regional committee is charged with coming up with recommendations for how to toll Portland-area freeways. The committee’s goal is to offer a plan to the Oregon Transportation Commission that would help manage vehicle bottlenecks and raise funds for projects to ease traffic congestions.

The modeling scenarios were chosen to show how certain choices could affect local roads and communities, traffic flows and travel times.

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 an additional toll lane constructed in each direction;

4) I-5 would have no toll lanes and I-205 would have one toll lane added in each direction;

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 a newly constructed toll lane added in both directions.

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

The public may comment online at odotvaluepricing.org.

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