WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee today urging his renewed engagement in opposing Oregon’s unfair tolling scheme.
In July of 2018, Governor Inslee visited Vancouver and declared that Oregon’s proposal to toll I-5 and I-205 at the state border “will not happen.” Yet the state of Oregon continues to move forward with its efforts.
“Now that you’ve declared your intention to serve as governor for four more years, we need your involvement before Oregon moves forward with a plan that treats Southwest Washington commuters as a revenue source without providing them with any benefit,” Herrera Beutler wrote to Inslee.
The full text of the letter follows, and is available here:
Dear Governor Inslee,
I write to ask for your renewed engagement with Oregon’s unfair plan to toll I-5 and I-205 at or near the state line. Now that you’ve declared your intention to serve as governor for four more years, we need your involvement before Oregon moves forward with a plan that treats Southwest Washington commuters as a revenue source without providing them with any benefit.
As you know, Oregon’s effort to toll cars on I-5 and I-205 after they cross into Oregon includes no specific plans to improve the roadways used by Washington residents, and it contributes nothing to the I-5 bridge replacement. In fact, should this specific tolling project move forward, addressing the I-5 bridge will become significantly more difficult. And make no mistake: the Oregon tolling scheme is moving forward. In January, Oregon announced that this plan received approval from the federal government to move into the next phase.
While I am a vocal defender of Southwest Washington commuters, my legislative options are limited; current federal law makes it very difficult – if not impossible – to stop this unfair scheme. Additionally, the Oregon congressional delegation has been a united force in actively opposing my attempts in Congress to protect Southwest Washington residents’ interests. I will continue to explore every option to make sure Southwest Washington residents aren’t exploited by their neighbors, but we need help at the state level.
Governor, it was with sincere gratitude that I welcomed your commitment to fighting this tolling plan when you visited Vancouver in July of 2018. As I said at the time, standing up for the economic well-being of our constituents is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s what we’re supposed to do as elected officials. Those who would be most affected by Oregon’s tolling plan are teachers, service industry workers, and other working class folks. These are the individuals who can least afford the additional cost, and do not have the choice to commute to work during non-peak hours.
I implore you to engage with your Oregon counterpart, Governor Brown, to help her understand that any attempt to toll Southwest Washington residents unfairly will be counterproductive.
Thank you for your renewed attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.