The I-5 Toll Bridge Debate

By Patrick Emerson
Oregon Economics Blog

Having lived many years in the Bay Area, where all of the bay bridges are tolled, and in the midwest, where all of the freeways around Chicago are tolled, the idea that tolling the I-5 bridge would cause so much controversy is amusing to me.

Tolls will not pay for the bridge, but they will generate a lot of revenue. In the era of the FasTrack electronic pass, long delays at toll booths are generally a thing of the past. And, most importantly, tolls create exactly the type of incentive to car pool, use light rail, bike and so on. So, I think you should definitely toll the I-5 bridge.

However, if you are going to toll the I-5 bridge, it is hard to see how you leave the I-205 bridge without tolls. Of course an equilibrium will arise where congestion on the Glenn Jackson bridge will be a toll of its own, but this is a toll with a large externality whereas a monetary toll is not.

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