Big Brother could
soon be keeping an eye on four-wheelers in Oregon, but an official with the
state’s DOT said trucks need not worry.
In response to a
request from the state’s legislature, ODOT’s Office of Innovative Partnerships
has been developing concepts for other revenue mechanisms to make up for the
state’s gasoline tax, which is generating less income because of more
Under a new pilot
program in the state, 280 volunteers’ cars will be fitted with special GPS
devices. The devices will be preprogrammed with border and zone information
within the state and will track the vehicles’ mileage, which will then be
downloaded back to the DOT at specially equipped service centers.
“The one that we are testing in the pilot program is a GPS
receiver – a very simple GPS receiver that does not send out a signal anywhere,
and does not retain driving history,” said James Whitty of the Office of
Innovative Partnerships. “It just simply receives the signal.”
However, Whitty said Oregon has no intentions of using the
system for large trucks.
“We don’t intend to apply it to the big heavy trucks,”
Whitty said. “We have the weight distance tax here in Oregon, so we think that
matches up well with the mileage fee. There’s no need to have trucks have this
system imposed on them.”
One last test of the system will take place this fall,
before the official pilot program begins in Spring 2006. If it works and
becomes the replacement to the gas tax, Whitty said, it would cost drivers
approximately 1 cent per mile.
The program is backed by $2.9 million in funds, $2.1 million
of which has come from the Federal Highway Administration’s Value Pricing Pilot
Project. Whitty said portions of this money will go toward recruiting and
compensating the 280 program volunteers.
“These will be ordinary citizens,” he said. “They will have
the advantage of not having to pay the gas tax during this time, and their
mileage fee payments will be covered, so they will actually have an advantage