PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Oregon will soon be the first state in the nation to charge drivers by the mile for maintaining the state’s roads in a test to begin next year.
ODOT is moving ahead with the road use fee to replace the gasoline tax. As cars get more fuel efficient, gas tax revenue is going down, and the state is looking for better ways to pay for keeping the roads in good shape.
Drivers pay 30-cents per gallon in gas taxes every time they stop to fill up. That adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. But ODOT said that’s not enough to maintain the roads.
Two pilot programs were undertaken, each with electronic devices attached to cars to calculate how many miles a driver travels. A driver will then get a bill at the end of the month, and then a refund of the gas tax.
The fee — 1.5 cents a mile — will roll out July 1, 2015 through 5,000 volunteer participants. ODOT and the volunteers will see how it works, and then the Oregon legislature will decide when it will be expanded to the rest of the state’s drivers.
Michelle Godfrey with ODOT said it’s not necessarily a disincentive for people who buy fuel-efficient cars.
That’s not how driver Chris Soland feels.
“Well, if they change it to a road tax, with my fuel-efficient car I don’t think that would be OK with me,” he said.
Other drivers, like Dean Dordovic, are worried about Big Brother watching.
“My experience with the state, generally speaking, is that it’s a slippery slope, that once the box gets in there, I think you’ve opened up Pandora’s Box,” he said.
ODOT’s Godfrey addressed those concerns, but it may be a tough sell.
“Depending on where you sit, it feels unfair for one reason or another,” Godfrey told KOIN 6 News. “But we’re looking at what’s best for Oregon as a whole.”
Many other states will keep an eye on Oregon to see if this works.