Tolls will be going up on the Bridge of the Gods this spring, but only for heavy vehicles.
Last month, the Cascade Locks Port Commission approved a 50-cent toll increase for the Bridge of the Gods on trucks that have three axles or more. Currently, trucks are charged $1 per axle to cross the bridge, but that will change to $1.50 per axle on May 1 when the increase goes into effect.
The port says it needs the boost in toll revenue to “ensure sufficient funding” for its Bridge Preservation, Repair and Replacement Fund and notes that the “increases are in recognition of the cost of repairs, operation and administration” of the bridge. According to News archives, the Bridge of the Gods has not seen a toll increase since Jan. 1, 2003.
Last summer, the Oregon Department of Transportation imposed weight restrictions on the bridge after identifying dozens of corroding structural features that either needed to be repaired or replaced before the bridge could be restored to its original weight restrictions. Trucks and other heavy vehicles had to either cross the Interstate 205 bridge or the Hood River Bridge until the weight restrictions were restored in late December of last year.
As part of an addendum agreement with ODOT — which administered the repair job — the port has to develop a 10-year maintenance and operations program for bridge upkeep and improvement projects. Money from the projects would come from the port’s bridge preservation fund, with estimated annual expenditures of $200,000 to $300,000.
In addition to the toll increases, the port commission also decided to eliminate the port’s annual pass-holder program. About 40 people were enrolled in the program that offered up to a 50-percent discount off bridge tolls, which Port Interim General Manager Paul Koch said “just doesn’t pencil out for the port anymore.” However, Koch did say bridge users can still purchase coupon books that offer a 25-percent discount on tolls.
The port commission is also planning from here on out to conduct annual reviews of bridge tolls in conjunction with budget development, according to Koch.
Those who have questions about the toll increases may call the port at 541-374-8619.