Oregon to Implement Voluntary Road Usage Fee

The Oregon Department of Transportation is starting work on what the agency says will be the nation’s first per-mile road usage fee program when it goes online July 1, 2015.

Under a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature last year, ODOT can charge drivers 1.5 cents per mile driven. In return, participating drivers will be issued a gas tax refund. The program, which is voluntary, can accommodate up to 5,000 cars and light commercial vehicles.

Participants will be given a choice of different technologies they can use to automatically report miles driven and manage payment options. ODOT is currently seeking technology vendors.

Oregon conducted two similar pilot projects in 2007 and 2012. This time around, the project is intended to serve as the foundation for a permanent, alternate method to raise money for the state’s highways.

State officials have been researching the so-called “Prius tax” for years as a way to replace the gas tax, which doesn’t generate much money from high-mileage electric and hybrid vehicles.