As the fall election nears in Oregon, one issue gaining attention cannot be decided for another two years until the presidential election.
A proposed ballot initiative would require voter approval for tolls on existing roads or bridges. Signatures for the petition effort recently were submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office for verification.
Initiative Petition 10 calls for amending the state constitution to require voters to approve adding tolls to existing roadways, such as Interstate 5. Voter approval would be necessary both statewide and in the county where the toll would be collected.
The Oregon Transportation Commission last month voted unanimously to seek federal approval for tolling Interstates 5 and 205 through the Portland area. The commission is also interested in collecting information for a “seamless loop” of tollways around the state’s largest city.
Advocates say tolling the area’s highway network could go a long way to address traffic congestion.
The petition effort would not apply to collecting tolls for “new net capacity” on a road or bridge. Specifically, the term would apply to the “expansion of transportation infrastructure which did not exist prior to Jan. 1, 2018, and which has not been converted from a previous form of transportation infrastructure” which has already been built and/or operates with public dollars.
Oregon’s Constitution requires toll revenue be used for purposes that include construction, reconstruction, repairs, maintenance, operation and use of public roadways.
Adding an initiative petition to the ballot is a multiple-step process. Once signatures have been collected in support for adding a question to the ballot backers must then submit signatures to the state for verification. After completion of this process, the Oregon Department of Justice writes a draft ballot title for release and public comment.
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