With Congress cutting long term-transporation funding, states like Oregon are seeking was to develop a responsible, sustainable system for funding future transportation projects, and Portland Mayor Charlie Hays thinks tolls are the answer.
On Monday, Joseph Rose from The Oregonian interviewed Hays at a transportation forum held at Portland State University. The mayor advocated tolls on his city’s highways, pointing out that paying to drive on state roads is considered normal for those living in other states and other nations.
“We call our highways in this county ‘freeways’, and I think we’re probably the only country in the world that does that,” he said.
He compared Oregonians’ opposition to street fees with the resistance most states encounter when increasing sales tax. But if residents want their city roads up and running, he said, it’s just a matter of getting used to a small cost.
“As a taxpayer, if I paid a buck here, or a two bucks there, I really would get used to it,” he said. “Particularly if it were a transponder in my car and I didn’t have to stop at a toll booth.”
Hays thinks the best place to incorporate a toll booth is anywhere a choke point can be found, such as interstate highway bridges or passes across the Cascade Range.
Rose also observed that the trucking and building industry representatives who showed up to the forum also sounded open to increasing taxes to support transportation projects.