Making an Impact
January 2021 - Volume 8 - Issue 4
ODOT is testing new technology for road charging

Hundreds of Portland drivers will participate in six month pilot program

For more information, contact Michelle Godfrey, (503) 986-3903 or (971) 304-9705

SALEM, Ore. – With support from a federal grant, ODOT is testing new ways to fund transportation projects at the city and county level using the state’s pay-per-mile system, OReGO. Portland-area drivers are being recruited now through early February to participate in OReGO’s Local Road Usage Charge Pilot.

Participating Portland-area drivers will collect data for three potential funding models:

  • Area-boundary pricing: Time-of-day road charge pricing within the Portland Metro area.

  • Layer-area pricing sub-pilot: Time-of-day road charge pricing in two overlapping areas, such as a city and a county. In this pilot, testing will occur within Portland and Multnomah County.

  • Corridor pricing sub-pilot: Time-of day road charge pricing on specific highway corridors within the Portland Metro area.

Study participants can earn up to $450 if they plug a device into their vehicle (OBD-II port), drive that vehicle around the Portland Metro area, and answer questions about their experience. A survey will determine participants’ eligibility for the study through February 2021. All participant data is protected and confidential.

The pilot will continue through late summer. ODOT will report the data and feedback collected through the pilot to the Oregon Legislature and the Federal Highway Administration. 
More about OReGO
The Oregon Legislature identified the downward trend in transportation funding in 2001 and established Oregon’s Road User Fee Task Force to investigate alternatives to the traditional gas tax. With its direction, ODOT designed and conducted pilot programs in 2006 and 2013 to test a per-mile charging system. The fully operational and voluntary system, named OReGO, launched in 2015 and was the first of its kind in the nation.

By law, Oregon’s Road Usage Charge Program offers drivers choices for the technologies they use to report miles driven as well as how they manage and pay their road usage charges. They can obtain services through private sector account managers with market-driven options that are efficient and cost-effective.
The future of road charging
Taking Oregon’s lead, many other states are considering charging by the mile, and members of Congress are exploring taking the approach national. As the leader in road usage charging, Oregon is working to improve the system by exploring new technologies like those in the Local RUC Pilot, and leading a coalition of western states that is working through how this system could operate across state lines, so out-of-state travelers would pay their fair share to use Oregon’s roads.
Learn more!
OReGO has nearly 2,000 vehicles enrolled to date. Learn about OReGO, enroll as a volunteer driver, and more at

Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan Update
Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan Update project information and resources now available:
ODOT is updating the Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan (TSAP). The TSAP unifies transportation safety planning in Oregon. It provides long-term goals, policies, and strategies, as well as near-term actions to eliminate transportation system deaths and life-changing injuries. The TSAP project team has been busy over the last few months making progress on the TSAP update.

An online survey was conducted in October-November 2020 and more than 430 people participated in providing feedback on transportation safety needs. You are encouraged to review the survey summary for key themes that will inform the project update.

The project team has also completed an analysis of crash trends that documents updated safety data; recent and historic trends related to crash types, crash severity, and possible contributing factors; and an analysis of the attainment of safety performance targets.
Check out the latest fact sheet (also available in Spanish) that summarizes what we have learned from stakeholder input and the analysis of crash trends.
Visit the TSAP project website for additional resources and sign up for the project e-newsletter to stay informed. Email questions and comments to:

Rain creates slide threats, other concerns around Oregon


Don Hamilton, Portland area, 503-704-7452

Lou Torres, Coast and Willamette Valley, 503-559-7118

Heavy winds and rain have produced a variety of road hazards including standing water, flooding, downed trees and powerlines. But another major threat in the days ahead will come from rain-soaked hillsides that threaten to slide onto Oregon roads.

Even as rains let up, saturated, unstable soils remain, aggravating the potential for slides. On Wednesday we started assessments, including aerial observations, to study the extent and nature of the threat.

The slides have been taking place in areas of the state accustomed to slides in heavy rain, including the Columbia River Gorge, rivers along the Coast Range and in the Cascades.

Visit for the latest road conditions and closures.
The slide threat will be greatest on roads with steep hillsides. Here are some tips for drivers:

  • Be especially alert. Bridges may be washed out, culverts overtopped and boulders may be dislodged.

  • Don’t drive through high water. You may not know if it’s dangerously deep.

  • Watch for sunken and cracked roads and leaning utility poles, trees or fences.

  • Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle flow may precede a much larger event and slides can develop quickly.

  • If near a river or creek, be alert for sudden changes in water levels or if the water changes from clear to muddy. Such changes indicate activity upstream and you should be prepared to move quickly.

  • Be especially alert in areas burned by the September 2020 wildfire, where the threat of slides is increased.

  • Get away from a slide. More may be coming.

Remember, slides vary widely in size and can move at slow or very high speed depending on slope angle, water content, and type of earth and debris flow.

PBOT urges public to focus on wellness, caution as Portland sees a 24-year high number of people die in traffic crashes

2020 defies historic pattern of fewer traffic crashes during economic recession
Excessive speed and impairment contributed to majority of traffic deaths
Indications that Vision Zero is reducing dangerous behaviors along key routes

(Jan. 6, 2021) As 2020 came to a close, 54 people died in traffic crashes on Portland streets, already exceeding the number in all of 2019 and raising concern about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on traffic safety during a unique year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) said today.

The 54 deaths are the highest number of traffic fatalities in the City of Portland since 1996, when there were 59. It mirrors a high number of traffic crashes observed in other parts of the metro area and cities across the nation.
Figures for 2020 are preliminary, but point to a disturbing rise in traffic fatalities and risky driving behavior:

  • Traffic deaths for drivers and passengers in motor vehicles totaled 23 -- nearly three times the number in 2018.

  • People driving are fatally crashing into fixed objects, including parked cars and utility poles, at high rates: 11 so far this year, compared to about eight most years. Speeding and impairment are believed to contribute to those kinds of crashes, and Portland Police have noted that when traffic declined because of stay at home orders, excessive speeding increased.

  • Speeding contributed to at least 23 fatalities, or about 45 percent.

  • Five people on bicycles died in traffic crashes, compared with two each of the last three years.

  • 20 deaths occurred on state of Oregon highways in Portland, including eight on interstates, compared with an average of 14 from 2016 to 2019.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, named Commissioner-in-Charge of PBOT effective Jan. 1, called for more investment in safety improvements on city streets.

“As the new Commissioner of PBOT, I am eager to continue to look at reinvestments that can be made to our infrastructure to build systems that can truly keep Portlanders safe,” Hardesty said. “What we know from public health experts, such as Dr. Jon Jay from Boston University, is that traffic enforcement does not necessarily improve safety outcomes, but technology and infrastructure upgrades do. Our local outcomes also show that these improvements save lives and Portlanders can expect that under my leadership in the bureau we will continue to move in that direction.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a unique year, and it appears to have created uniquely tragic results on streets and highways throughout the metropolitan area and across the nation. Alcohol consumption, as well as rates of anxiety and depression are up nationwide, according to surveys and media reports.

“We know that people are suffering, and we believe we are seeing the results of that on our streets,” Portland Transportation Director Chris Warner said. “We are also seeing some hopeful signs that our safety improvements are reducing crashes in some areas and saving lives, and we will continue to do more. We need everyone’s help to stay safe this winter season: Slow down when you’re driving, and encourage your family and friends to make sure they have a safe ride home.”

The year 2020 defied historic trends. Typically, traffic fatalities fall when an urban area experiences a recession, and there is a reduction overall in driving and in risky behaviors such as speeding and impaired driving.

This was not the case the first months after the pandemic began, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The death rate – an indicator of how safely drivers are using the roadways – jumped 20 percent between January and June 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019, according to the National Safety Council

Despite a historically high number of fatalities in 2019 and 2020, there are signs that the City of Portland’s adoption of Vision Zero as its traffic safety goal in 2015 is already making streets safer. 

  • In 2019, the odds of people driving 30 mph or faster dropped by more than one-third on residential streets where PBOT changed the speed limit to 20 mph, down from 25 mph. 

  • PBOT has installed dozens of left-turn calming improvements at high-crash intersections that normally account for 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities in Portland. No pedestrians have been killed in Portland at intersections equipped with the yellow-and-black plastic dividers. 

  • High-risk speeds have dropped significantly following corridor safety projects recently completed on SW Capitol Highway, and in East Portland on NE Glisan Street and NE 102nd Avenue. People driving 10 mph or more above the speed limit declined by 73 percent to 87 percent after safety improvements were installed. 

  • Crashes resulting in injuries have dropped by more than one-third following design changes and installation of speed safety cameras on SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. 

Fatal crash figures are preliminary for 2020. Final figures for fatalities and data for traffic injuries are expected from the state of Oregon in 2022.

Learn more about Vision Zero, the City’s effort to end traffic crashes and serious injuries, at 

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage, and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility.
We are always here to help with traffic safety education. We currently have these three images on yard signs available. If you know anyone that would like to have them on display in their community please let us know. We will be glad to ship them to you free of charge.
Car Seat Check Up Events

We know that car seat safety is very important, as it should be, for many new parents. We want you to know are here to help.
We are currently making appointments for car seat education sessions, along with other local partners. Please contact us for more information at 503-899-2220 or via email at