U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has weighed in on the issue of Oregon’s plan to toll drivers on I-5 and I-205.
And, she says that she’s got the backs of Southwest Washington residents.
Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) penned a letter dated July 20, 2017. The letter was sent Thursday to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Matthew Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“It is my understanding that the State of Oregon is developing a plan that may include the imposition of tolls on Interstate Highways 5 and 205,’’ Herrera Beutler wrote. “In the interest of avoiding any future conflict, I write to make my position clear.
“I do not oppose the concept of a fee paid by the users of a resource and allocated toward the construction, maintenance or upkeep of that resource,’’ Herrera Beutler continued. “However, any attempt to levy tolls on I-5 or I-205 at the Washington State line, the lion’s share of which would be paid by Washington commuters, in order to pay for infrastructure improvements south of Portland that would rarely be used by the vast majority of those paying the tolls, would be unfair in the extreme. Oregon has no right to make Southwest Washington an unwilling piggy bank for Oregon’s infrastructure projects.
“Since both I-5 and I-205 are Interstate Highways, there is a federal interest,’’ she added. “As a Member of Congress, I will defend Southwest Washington residents from any unfair tolling plan using every appropriate means at my disposal.’’
Oregon lawmakers recently approved a $5.3 billion transportation bill that included plans to toll drivers on both I-5 and I-205, starting at the Washington border and continuing south to the point the two interstates connect south of Portland. In order for the tolling plan to be implemented, Oregon would need to acquire approval from the Federal Highway Administration prior to the end of 2018.