A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

I-5 bridge toll: How would it work?

Written January 14th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
A rendering of the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing.

A rendering of the proposed Columbia River Crossing.

Oregon legislators are wondering if and how Oregon could collect the toll on the proposed Columbia River Crossing from Washington state drivers. Never mind Washington. How about Oregon and California drivers? How would the toll be collected from us and our southern neighbors? Or from others from around this continent using Interstate 5 to cross the Columbia River.
I’m asking because I don’t know, and in the extensive coverage of this issue in The Oregonian, I have not seen any recent mention of just how the toll would be collected. If the plan called for toll booths, the question would not come up. Every vehicle that does not have a pass would have to stop and pay at the booths.

But evidently toll booths would slow traffic too much, so the plan calls for some electronic collection system. Occasional travelers or tourists, though, would not have the requisite transponders on their vehicles. So is it the plan to have booths for some vehicles but not others? Or are we talking some kind of license-plate recognition system that would send bills to the home addresses of registered vehicle owners?

The toll would be about $2.50, according to the report from a legislative hearing on Tuesday. This seems relatively low. But even at that rate, there’s an estimate that the toll would cause 40,000 drivers a day to use I-205 and the Glenn Jackson Bridge instead. Forget about getting to the Portland airport on time if this comes about.
The tolling issue is only one problem with this $2.8 billion bridge. And the planners may have figured out the mechanics of it. If so, I wish they’d let the public know. If not, this bridge probably should not be built. (hh)

4 responses to “I-5 bridge toll: How would it work?”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    According to the CRC website: “Vehicles without a transponder will be photographed. The license plate will be linked to the vehicle owner, who may choose to prepay online or by phone or be invoiced for the toll, which will include a processing fee. Cash payment methods also will be available.”

    I assume the Oregon DMV computers will be able to talk to every state’s DMV computers, including Canada and Mexico, to obtain a licensee’s billing address. Sounds like a lot of work to collect a toll. Only a bureaucrat would spend $5.00 to re-coup $2.50.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I agree that this would likely be so costly that it would not be worth it. A guy from Yreka drives to Olympia once to visit a cousin. Two months later he gets a bill from Oregon for $2.50 for crossing the bridge plus a fee for handling. What’s he going to do? If it was me, I would throw the bill away. (hh)

  2. Hazel Siebrecht says:

    My husband & I used a toll road in Colorado. Several weeks later we received a bill for $2.36. We paid it but it left me feeling a little scornful of that state!


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