Date: will start taking that road instead. So

Date: January, 2018To: Tammy Bane, Chairwoman of
the Oregon Transportation CommissionFrom: Eric Switzer Subject:  I-5 and I-205 Congestion Introductory:Every day hundreds of thousands of north-west Washingtonians
cross over into Oregon in the morning, and again coming home. The only ways of
getting across the Columbian River is driving across one of two bridges, the
I-5 bridge and the I-205 bridge, both facing EXTREME congestion daily. As the
cities of Portland and Vancouver continue to thrive economically, the result is
only going to increase the number of people who come to live here and use these
very limited roads. There have been many attempts to help solve this problem
but none of them have been successful. Some of the ideas have been to expand
the bridges to have more lanes or to create a new bridge all together, but
neither of these ideas would work in the long term. We need to
limit the amount of people who are driving on them. One way to do this is using
tolls. We have been using tolls since the age of the horse and buggies and we
still using them today for a reason, they are EFFECTIVE! Tolls do many things
to combat congestion because they are relatively cheap but pay for themselves,
they limit the amount of people on the roads, and they improve the non-toll
lanes. Reasoning
Behind the Traffic and how to stop it:The traffic going from Washington to Oregon and vis versa has
become increasingly more of a problem. According to Dameon Pesanti, a reporter for
The Columbian Newspaper, more than 290,000 cars cross over these two bridges
every day and that number is growing (Pesanti, 2016). The root cause for
traffic is purely the number of cars on the road. The more cars on the road,
the more traffic there will be. This is why adding lanes to a rode will not
solve the problem. With more lanes on a road, initially the congestion will
decrease, but as people who don’t usually take that road see how much quicker
it is, they will start taking that road instead. So within a short amount of
time, we are back to were we started. This is why we must lower the amount of
vehicles on the road using tolls. Simple and effective:We should add toll lanes on I-5 and I-205 because they are
quick, simple, and cheap to put into place. I-5 already has a car pool lane
which would make it very easy to transform it into a toll lane and I-205 has at
least three lanes for the majority of its length. Looking up I-5 into the
Seattle area on I-405, we can see they did this very thing and had great
success. This toll was put into place in September of 2015 and according to Mike
Lindblom, Seattle Times transportation reporter, after one year over 50,000
people utilize it every day (Lindblom, 2017). On the 17 miles where the toll
lane is in place, user who pay the toll have reported saving upwards of 15
minutes even at the worst times of rush hour. With 50,000 cars paying a toll of
five dollars, which is on the lower spectrum of prices, for every weekday, they
generate $65 million in a year. This project would cost multiple hundreds of
millions of dollars, but that estimate is at the lower side. Within a few years
with more people taking these roads as they are faster, more money will come
from it to pay itself off. From the over 50,000 people who are taking these roads,
there are also going to be thousands who decide they are going to get to their
destination another way, staying completely off the road. Alternative travel methods:I-5 and I-205 should have toll lanes as they cause drivers to
find other forms of transportation to get to their destination. The main reason
people cross the bridges is to get to their job and nearly everyone has a
coworker who lives close and takes the exact same trip to and from work. This
toll would encourage those coworkers to meet up and make the drive together.
This is a very simple way to eliminate the number of cars that cross the
bridges and thus lowering congestion and travel times. When people are faced
with an increase in time or price they will try alternative methods to get
around the problem and that is a driving force for them to find other means of
transportation. The new obstacles of the toll lane will come up and directly
affect their life so they will choose the best option. For many people, this
will be to stop driving alone and start carpooling. With less people driving,
not only will the toll lanes move quicker but the lanes which are not tolled
will move more fluidly too. Improvement of non-toll lanes:I-5 and I-205 should add toll lanes as it will decrease the
traffic for all the other lanes. For the reasons stated above, less people will
be driving in the non-toll lanes, they will be carpooling and in the toll lanes.
Another reason traffic happens is because of drivers who suddenly switch lanes
to “stay in the moving lane”. They cut of the person behind them, causing them
to slam on their breaks and creating a domino effect of breaking. With less
lanes available, there will be fewer sudden lane changes cause traffic to worsen.
Looking again to the case of Seattle, Lindblom reports “Even drivers who don’t
use the toll lanes save an average of five minutes” (Lindblom, 2017). Not only
do these toll lanes help the commute time for those who utilize them, but they
also improve that for those who don’t. Conclusion:Vancouver and Portland both are experiencing a large boom in
economy and population. Many people live on one side of the river and commute
to the other for work. Every single driver who makes that commute agrees there
is a problem and we can not wait around to make it worse. According to a study
done by INRIX, people who drive into Portland will spend 47 hours a year
sitting in their car completely stopped (INRIX, 2016). As both cities grow, the
number of commuters is going to grow as well. Tolling lanes are quick, user friendly, and relatively cheap
but also pay for themselves. Unlike adding lanes which can take months of
shutting lanes down, the process of installing “toll booths” is exponentially
easier. The revenue that comes from these tolls will pay for themselves within
a handful of years, then that money can be put into other sectors of
transportation. Toll lanes are also fantastic at combatting traffic because
they reduce the overall number of cars on the road. The main reason why traffic
exists is because of the number of drivers on the road; as the number of
drivers decrease, the shorter traffic will be. This is the reason just adding
more lanes will is ineffective. When we add toll lanes to the freeway, not only
will those toll lanes move faster but the non-tolled lanes will move quicker
too because of the other side effects of these roads. The benefits of adding
these tolls far out way the cost both figuratively and economically. They can
be one of the leading factors that mitigate congestion between south-west
Washington and North-west Oregon.           ReferencesFriedman,
G. (2017, July 06). You could soon pay rush-hour tolls on Portland freeways.
Retrieved January 17, 2018, from,
M. (2017, February 06). The I-405 toll-lane experiment: How’s it working for
drivers, and the state? Retrieved January 17, 2018, from,
F. (2017, November 20). Portland Region Officials Begin Work On Congestion
Pricing Tilling Plan. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from,
D. (2016, May 03). Congested commute: Drive to Portland sucks up more minutes.
Retrieved January 18, 2018, from;
OR’s Scorecard Report. (2016). Retrieved January 18, 2018, from OR&index=40Roth,
S. (2017, February 20). Study ranks Portland as 12th most congested commute in
U.S. Retrieved January 17, 2018, from



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