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ODOT public comment period ends soon on possible gas-tax demise, per-mile tax in Oregon Transportation Plan

(Update: Adding video, details from ODOT representative, KTVZ.COM Poll)

'What should we prioritize? Tell us what's important to you'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the final few days of seeking public feedback on their priorities to help guide the agency on finalizing its draft 25-year Oregon Transportation Plan.

According to ODOT, the Oregon Transportation Plan (PDF) is the long-range transportation system plan for the state. It establishes a vision and policy foundation to guide transportation system development and investment. The OTP and its mode and topic plans guide decisions by ODOT and other transportation agencies statewide, and is reflected in the policies and decisions explained in local and regional plans.

"Because of the reduction in revenue in front of us, do less with less. Then what should we prioritize? Tell us what's important to you," Shelley Snow, ODOT's strategic communications coordinator, asked of the public on Tuesday.

Snow says Oregon's gas tax is one of the only funds covering repairs to state highways, "but we don't have the funds to do everything that everyone wants. That's where the Oregon Transportation Plan comes in."

ODOT has been working on a plan to tax drivers per mile since 1999. In the draft Oregon Transportation Plan, it would replace the gas tax.

The per-mile tax would mean Oregonians who own electric vehicles also pay for upkeep and improvements to the roads they travel, instead of just owners of gas-powered vehicles.

Snow says revenue from the 38 cent-per-gallon gas tax has dropped because of the popularity of hybrids and electric vehicles.

"People who do drive those high mile-per-gallon vehicles, those old, all-electric vehicles and hybrids, they know they are not paying their fair share, and they have been willing to pay the per mile fee," she said.

In 2022, the Oregon motor fuel tax forecasted more than $650 million in revenue.

That is expected to drop to $630 million in 2031, even with expected population growth.

"We've looked ahead, we're continuing to look ahead, and the revenues are falling beyond the way that we have been able to maintain things and do things," Snow said.

A private-sector account manager that individual drivers select will track miles driven for Oregonians. If you'd like to learn more details about how your miles potentially will be tracked, you can click here.

If you'd like to comment on the plan and how ODOT can make roads safer and more accessible, visit their comment forum, or send them an email. The public comment period for the draft 25-year plan ends Friday.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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