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Jaime Herrera Beutler Amendment Blocks Unfair Oregon Tolling Scheme
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler successfully secured a legislative amendment to prohibit Oregon’s proposal to establish tolls on I-5 and I-205.
Tonight, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler successfully secured a legislative amendment to prohibit Oregon’s proposal to establish tolls on I-5 and I-205.
Jaime introduced and defended the prohibition on the U.S House floor as an amendment to a U.S. House funding plan for the U.S. Department of Transportation – the federal agency that must approve Oregon’s tolling plan.
“Residents of Southwest Washington have been voicing their strong concern to me that Oregon will be forcing them to pay tolls for infrastructure they don’t use and that there’s nothing they can do about it. They’re concerned that Oregon will make them an unwilling piggy bank,” said Jaime. “Tonight I went to the floor of Congress to defend them against unfair tolls, and I’m pleased that the U.S. House passed my plan to do just that. I’m not against the concept of a user fee as long as it’s used to construct or repair something that benefits those who pay, and my amendment does not prohibit that from happening. It does not prevent Oregon or Washington from improving the I-5 bridge; it simply protects against Oregon’s skewed plans to make Washington commuters pay unfair tolls for infrastructure projects that are miles away from the Columbia River, offering little benefit to Southwest Washington residents.
“The next step for this plan is the U.S. Senate, and I’m hopeful Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray will join with me by protecting this provision. And now it is time for Governor Jay Inslee to join in this effort and stand with Washingtonians by involving himself in the process. Any transportation proposal requiring a financial commitment from both Oregonians and Washingtonians should benefit the residents and infrastructure needs of both states. I stand ready to address the infrastructure needs of our communities and honor the shared responsibility between our two states.”
Earlier this summer, Jaime wrote a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matthew Garrett stating her opposition to the imposition of tolls on I-5 and I-205 at the state lines.
Jaime also recently sent a survey to Southwest Washington residents, and of the more than 8,500 responses she received, nearly 90% said they opposed Oregon imposing tolls on federal highways, the lion’s share of which would be paid for by Southwest Washington commuters, to fund infrastructure projects that would rarely be used by Washington residents.