At the Feb. ODOT “no-Value” Tolling Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, there were amazing developments citizens must know.
There were eight initial proposals offered, narrowed down to five by ODOT staff. There are basically four options going forward for further evaluation.
One of those options is to toll all lanes of both I-5 and I-205. If implemented, Portland would be the only place in the country to implement tolling on all lanes of an existing interstate.
The staff described the current traffic situation as “hyper congestion.” He also used the word “severe.”
Incredibly, members of the tolling committee were not offered information on the price or price ranges of tolls, the amounts that might be collected from each option, before the choices were narrowed.
Incredibly, members of the tolling committee were not offered information on traffic diversion impacts for each option, before the choices were narrowed.
The alleged purpose is to force people off the interstates. People will divert to alternate side roads to avoid the tolls. And yet no information was provided about traffic diversion before the eight choices were narrowed.
One PAC member shared there are already 50,000 vehicles presently diverting due to the horrible congestion. Any new traffic diversion will only make things worse. It increasingly becomes a safety issue for neighborhoods and communities.
Mayor Ann Ogle shared one option that is moving forward, had “5 failures” in the internal data. Why would an option with that many “failures” go forward?
Incredibly, part of the answer was that the staff and outside experts said they didn’t believe the model, for that part of the evaluation. Well if one part of the model is delivering “unbelievable” data or outputs, then why isn’t the entire evaluation model suspect?
Incredibly, there was no “ranking” of each option by the 25 tolling committee members. At the end, there was no “vote” affirming or rejecting the 5 projects ODOT staff recommended to move forward. Several PAC members asked for other options to be included in the next phase. They were ignored.
One sadly dropped from consideration, was “build a new lane in each direction on both I-5 and I-205, and toll just the new lanes.” The initial indications showed this option had the best impact on congestion. It likely had the least traffic diversion and would ultimately reduce the 50,000 vehicles presently diverting.
Incredibly, it was dismissed due to the alleged “cost” of building that many miles of freeway lanes. But when the staff and experts were asked, “what is the cost so we can evaluate it, and share it with constituents,” they were not given the information. The staff never created costing models. The common sense solution was dismissed by staff, due to an unknown “cost.”
Ultimately, there is no “value” in Oregon’s “value pricing” tolling scheme. Sadly, with no votes to affirm or reject any of the staff options by the advisory committee, it demonstrates the entire process is controlled by unelected bureaucrats.
President Trump or Congress must kill it.