Jaime Herrera Beutler Urges Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell to Uphold Amendment Protecting Washington Commuters from Oregon Tolling Scheme
Jaime formally presses Washington’s senators to ensure her U.S. House-approved amendment is also included in the U.S. Senate’s transportation funding bill
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler formally urged Washington’s U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, to support her prohibition on Oregon’s tolling scheme in the final U.S. Senate transportation funding bill for Fiscal Year 2018.
Today, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler formally urged Washington’s U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, to support her prohibition on Oregon’s tolling scheme in the final U.S. Senate transportation funding bill for Fiscal Year 2018.
The text of the letter follows and a PDF version is available here.
Dear Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell:
Thank you for your engagement on an issue vitally important to Southwest Washington -- Oregon's plan to implement potentially unfair tolls at the I-5 and I-205 bridges. I am writing to request your assistance in ensuring my legislative amendment on this issue is included in the final transportation funding bill for Fiscal Year 2018.
I appreciate Senator Murray's efforts to obtain representation for Washingtonians on Oregon's tolling advisory committee. It is helpful for Washingtonians to have a voice at the table. But as you know, seating three Washingtonians on an advisory committee of 15-20 Oregonians is far from a complete solution.
Oregon's new transportation law gives that state the authority to toll the Interstate bridges at the state line, which are overwhelmingly used by Southwest Washington commuters, and divert the revenue to pay for projects elsewhere in the state. This would be fundamentally unfair to our constituents, who have voiced their strong opposition to this proposal. I recently conducted a survey in Southwest Washington to hear our community's opinion on Oregon’s proposal and quickly received 8,500 responses. Nearly 90% of participants opposed Oregon’s plan to toll those highways. Further, this new plan undermines the cooperative regional effort to find a solution for congestion on the I-5 bridge.
The House of Representatives successfully passed a fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill that included my amendment to prohibit the use of funds for establishing tolls on Interstate Route 5 or Interstate Route 205 for the next fiscal year. This prohibition would give Oregon time to develop its tolling plan in a deliberative and transparent manner. Further, maintaining this prohibition is the only solid assurance we can provide Washingtonians that no unfair plan can be pushed through without their input being taken into account.
I believe we have been sent a clear message from Southwest Washington communities. As we work to conclude federal funding legislation, it is imperative that we secure a hold on tolling on I-5 and I-205 for Fiscal Year 2018. Please join with me in this effort.