If not tolls, then what?

The short answer …

We don’t know, but we know how to find out. We’ve survived without permanent tolls for 110 years – let’s talk with ODOT about why suddenly they say tolls are the “only” solution.  

Let’s work together to figure out a better plan to keep our highways moving.  

IP-4 will force a meaningful transparent clear conversation between ODOT and the taxpayers before they are able to launch any tolls, including the I-205 toll. The conversation should include the toll’s purpose, how toll funds are used, the collection method and overhead, the toll rate, sunsetting, environmental  impact (diversion), etc.

The Full Answer

IP-4, through its regional Vote Before Tolls requirement, will require ODOT to be transparent about the use and impact of tolls before voters will approve them. We all want and need good roads, but the revenues from the current proposed tolls are NOT dedicated to specific road capacity or maintenance.

2I am the author of and co-petitioner for IP-4. I know the measure and the situation very well.

In fact, ODOT has said one of their goals is to get us out of our cars and another is to make highways equitable. I’m good with a fair tax – as it has been for 100+ years since 1919 when Oregon was the first state in the nation to have a gasoline tax. Penalizing the residents of Clackamas County because we happen to have the last section of 2 lane road on I-205 is unfair. We ALL paid to add the 3rd and 4th lanes elsewhere in the metro area and we should at least all pay to get the last 2-lane section of I-205 up to parity.

The Abernethy Bridge seismic repair is already funded and is NOT coming from toll revenues.

The currently proposed I-205 toll is not tied specifically or exclusively to add and maintain a 3rd lane to I-205.

Not a penny of the $1.2 BILLION of “surprise upside” money that ODOT will receive as part of last year’s Infrastructure Improvement Act is being spent on I-205 … that’s ODOT spitting in our faces and saying “just pay the toll”.  They are assuming that a new $2,000 to $3,000 annual tax for JUST THIS SEGMENT of roadway is something we can all afford.

ODOT is ignoring the many written questions from local cities and counties about diversion and environmental impacts of the tolling project.

Toll collection overhead rates are estimated to be between 30 and 60%. That means about half of the $2,000-$3,000 you will pay annually in I-205 tolls will NEVER make it to ANY ODOT project!

IP-4 forces a clear transparent conversation and the opportunity to work together with ODOT to resolve these issues. Unfortunately, there is no other way. The Environmental Impact Report is a shortcut and shambles … it does not adequately address the impact of not just diversion safety and traffic, but it ignores the cost of maintaining and repairing side streets that were never designed to carry such diversion traffic volumes.

Many east and west coast tolls are for tolled express lanes alongside free lanes for everyone else – choice! ODOT chose to forgo federal matching funds toffee I-205 3rd lane by making the decision to toll ALL lanes of I-205 ALL the time.

There is so much wrong with the current tolling programs. IP-4 will force ODOT to do better.

And don’t get me started on the Rose Quarter I-5 tolls, Boone Bridge tolls, the Columbia River Bridge replacement tolls where ODOT announced in December ’22 an additional $2B cost-overrun to be made up by tolls.

Portland Metro Tolling candidates


Tolls may and will come on any Oregon road that crosses a mountain or river (which is every road in Oregon) with no easy alternative/diversion route. It will be the same story just a different road sign.

Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, Ontario, Seaside, Hood River, Pendleton, Klamath Falls, Bend/Sisters, Redmond, Hermiston, Baker City, Coos Bay, Medford, Ashland … you are in ODOT’s sights.
ODOT is authorized to toll anywhere in the state. Are any of these highways in your backyard?


If we don’t get in front of this and force accountability now we will never have a chance. Modern day tolls never sunset and are not focused on roadway capacity and maintenance. 

We seek the RIGHT TO VOTE. 

A good clear common sense tolling proposal will get a yes vote. But we do NOT have a good tolling proposal right now.

There are 10 tolling bills in front of the current legislature (go here and search in the box on the upper right corner of the page for “toll” in the bill title or text). I’m betting a year’s worth of tolls that NONE of them make it to a committee hearing, much less a floor vote, or the Governor’s signature. Politicians got us into this mess – they will NOT get us out of it. All of these measures are political grandstanding! If you want to support one of these bills please choose SJR-19 which will expedite IP-4 to the ballot.

Please download the petition, then print, sign, gather a few more signatures, and return it.



Some common questions about the Vote Before tolls initiative:

  • IP-4 is retroactive so its absolutely not too late to impact the I-205 & I-5 tolls.
  • We need to gather 200,000 signatures by June 2024 to get on the 2024 ballot
  • You must be a registered Oregon voter and can only sign once.
  • The current Abernethy Bridge construction is not related to the tolling project.
  • Tolling could be up to $6 each way to drive I-205 from 99E to Stafford road … $2,000 – $3,000 per year!
  • Tolling is not just an I-205 or I-5 issue .. the entire state could see tolling

Tolling is not the only new tax coming from ODOT:

ODOT has publicly stated their intentions to add two new taxing/funding sources … Tolls and a Road Use Charge where we all pay by the mile for ALL of our driving

IP-4, Vote Before Tolls, addresses the new tolling leg that charges drivers exorbitant amounts in very specific areas.

Donate and get $100 back*

That means you essentially donate for FREE!

* Contributions to the Vote Before Tolls Committee are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. The first $100 of an Oregon family’s contribution ($50 for individual contributions) will be given back to you as a direct 100% dollar-for-dollar credit on your 2023 taxes!

© 2023 Vote Before Tolls Committee