The CRC's Next Big Barrier: Tolls

Jeff Manning
The Oregonian
Wed, 11/06/2013 (All day)

When Washington rejected funding the border-crossing CRC freeway and bridge project, Oregon proponents said our state could go it alone. That creates a bunch of new costs, including, The Oregonian reports today, tens of millions of dollars to create the infrastructure for tolling the bridge.

Jeff Manning reports: 

When Washington pulled out of the Columbia River Crossing bridge project, Oregon lost not just an equal funding partner, it also lost Washington's experienced toll-collection organization, which was being counted on to generate half the project's $2.6 billion cost.

So Oregon is plunging ahead with plans to create its own tolling organization, which the Oregon Department of Transportation estimates could cost as much as $56 million.

But the Oregon tolling plan faces steep hurdles.

It's unclear to what extent Oregon can pursue collections efforts against Washington drivers who don't pay. Under existing Washington law, Oregon's toll enforcers would not be able to reach into Washington and wield their most powerful collection tool – blocking drivers' attempts to renew vehicle registrations.

Manning reports that the state legislature would likely have to approve any changes. The question now is whether Governor Kitzhaber will call a special session to ask that they do so--although skepticism is growing from Oregon lawmakers.

1000 Friends of Oregon believes it's time to move ahead with a different conversation centered on the values of the the state and region. Read our director Jason Miner's op-ed at