Clackamas County implores state for third lane on Interstate 205

During a policy meeting on Feb. 6, Clackamas County commissioners unanimously approved a statement for the Oregon Legislature imploring state lawmakers to reprioritize adding a third lane on Interstate 205 between the Abernethy Bridge and Stafford Road.

Commissioners said that the third lane would reduce diversion onto neighborhood streets, decrease crashes, complete essential seismic upgrades, reduce congestion and emissions, provide more reliable travel times, keep people and goods moving, and prepare for expected growth.

County Commissioner Ben West said that the state’s tolling scheme and its failure to construct the needed third lane on I-205 have impacted Clackamas County’s mobility and several other aspects of life in the county.

“For the quality of life and for a robust economy, we must be able to be mobile,” West said.

Last year ODOT announced the indefinite postponement of a third lane planned between Stafford Road and the Abernethy Bridge.

The department also scrapped plans to toll bridges that cross the Tualatin River along I-205 about six miles west of Oregon City’s Abernethy Bridge. Remaining as part of the plan, however, are plans to add tolls on the Abernethy Bridge.

Prompted by consistent pushback from residents and local elected officials in Clackamas County — where much of the tolling would take place — Gov. Tina Kotek last year asked ODOT to hold off on tolling on I-5 and I-205 until more thorough analysis of its impacts on nearby communities was completed, but tolling could still happen as early as January 2026.

Due to a shortfall in funding, ODOT scrapped plans that had been in place for several years to add a third lane of traffic to a seven-mile stretch of I-205 between Tualatin and West Linn.

Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas has previously called the combination of tolling and only two lanes of traffic between West Linn and Tualatin a “worst case scenario.”

“We got behind the I-205 project well over a decade ago because of the diversion that we experience today as a result of the bottleneck. Tolling now compounds that,” Savas said.

Commissioners say that the regional bottleneck causes safety concerns for over 100,000 daily trips, over 8% of which is freight traffic.

Elected officials expressed the concerns about I-205 traffic as part of their legislative priorities that include funding for the county courthouse currently being constructed, and action to address the impact Measure 110 has had on public safety and homelessness.

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