Cantwell writes letter to Oregon Gov. Brown about tolls

By:  Katy Sword
Source: The Columbian

Rounding out a trend with Washington’s federal leadership, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., sent a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday concerning tolls.

Cantwell joins Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who sent a letter to Brown earlier this month, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, who has been crusading against tolls since the concept was first introduced by Oregon in 2017.

After the Portland Region Value Pricing Advisory Committee spent six months considering tolling, the group recommended moving forward with two concepts. Concept B would toll all lanes on Interstate 5 between Southwest Multnomah Boulevard and Northeast Going Street.

The pricing committee also recommended considering Concept E, which would add tolls on Interstate 205 near the Abernathy Bridge and Stafford Road. The concepts were then sent to the Oregon Transportation Commission for consideration.

The commission voted Aug. 16 to ask the Federal Highway Administration to approve the plan.

However, before the commission made its recommendation, the Portland City Council announced it would prefer considering tolls on all lanes of I-5 and I-205, known as Concept C, instead. This announcement was met with criticism from those in Southwest Washington weary of the impact tolls would have on commuters who work in Oregon.

Cantwell joined Murray in asking Brown to take Concept C off the table.

“I am concerned that Washingtonians will be disproportionately impacted by the current tolling proposals,” Cantwell wrote. “The need for enhanced transit connectivity, better freight mobility, and safer and more efficient infrastructure, are issues that impact both of our states and the entire Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area.”

Cantwell also asked Brown to make sure Washington’s voice is heard as the conversations about tolling continue.

“Washington state residents make up about 20 percent of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, and their views must be reflected in a final proposal,” she wrote. “Elected officials in Southwest Washington, including members of the Vancouver City Council and the Clark County Council, have written extensively to share the concerns of the tens of thousands of Washingtonians who would be impacted daily by tolling on Interstates 5 and 205. In the interest of improving the transportation network in the entire metropolitan area, I ask that their concerns and suggestions be carefully considered.”