USDOT grants funds to improve road usage charge system in Oregon


The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded grants to improve the Oregon’s existing road usage charge programme (OReGO), and implement a joint project with California that will integrate the state’s road charging programmes.

For the OReGO programme, the USDOT has allocated $2.3m and for the later project, it has awarded a grant of $2.5m.

USDOT anticipates that the grants awarded will further enable the state’s understanding of the technology used in the OReGO programme, and would support local, state, regional and even national transportation funding needs.

OReGO programme manager Maureen Bock said: “The principal method of funding the road system - the fuels tax - is not sustainable in the long-term because of the much-improved efficiency of vehicles.

“Economists expect this trend to continue and for the gap in road funding to get much worse over the next several decades. An alternative to the gas tax is needed to ensure all drivers pay their fair share of road costs.”

As part of enhancing the OReGO programme, ODOT will use the first grant to support the testing of three options for adapting road charging to local jurisdictions.

"An alternative to the gas tax is needed to ensure all drivers pay their fair share of road costs."

ODOT will assess three road usage charge options with up to 500 volunteer participants each, where each option will explore technical feasibility of various local per-mile scenarios such as geo-fencing a city or county for additional per-mile rates during specific travel times.

The test scenarios will be launched next year in the Portland metropolitan region and will initially run for one year.

Results of the tests will be examined to identify if the OReGO system can handle local option road usage charges and to get an overview whether different pricing scenarios inspire drivers to plan their trips differently.

The second grant will be used for the Road Usage Charging (RUC) West regional California-Oregon interoperability project, where a consortium of 14 western states will demonstrate a regional system between member states Oregon and California.

The pilot project is expected to go live with volunteer drivers by next year.