UPDATE: The next Port of Cascade Locks meeting is scheduled for May 19, when the Port Commission expects to adopt the changes decided upon this week.
The Port of Cascade Locks has settled on increased toll costs for crossing Bridge of the Gods this summer.
The decision isn’t yet final, Port General Manager Paul Koch said, but port commissioners have “given the go ahead and will take the formal action as soon as possible.”
Tolls will go up through a tiered plan, with Gorge area residents paying the current $1 per crossing, while non-residents pay a boosted $2. New rates will kick in July 1.
The Port Commission defined “local” as residents in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area — Hood River, Wasco, Skamania and Klickitat counties plus Warrendale and Dodson. Residents will be issued decal stickers to put on their vehicles, available at port offices. Coupon books remain an alternative discount to all bridge-crossers.
New toll rates are the following:
- Local passenger cars and pickup trucks with sticker, or any driver with a coupon book —Stays at $1.
- Passenger vehicles without a sticker or coupon book — Doubles to $2.
- Trailers (commercial or passenger) — $1 per axle.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists — $1 for one way only (northbound).
- Cost for large trucks raises depending on axles — range from $3 for two axles to $15 for eight axles.
- Credit card payments stay at $2 minimum charge for all crossers.
The port had decided to schedule a meeting formally adopting the new toll rates Thursday, but canceled due to lack of a quorum. The commission and staff held their final discussion on rules Monday.
The port held a series of hearings in Cascade Locks and Stevenson to weigh public opinion on the toll increases. Speakers acknowledged the need for the port to fund bridge maintenance, but conflict arose over the amount of the hike. Several Stevenson business leaders argued the toll rates were too steep and would hurt local tourism.
Bridge maintenance costs spurred the port to seek a hike in tolls. The port identified $14 million upkeep work over the next decade to keep the 90-year-old bridge running at an 80,000-pound load rating.