History of I-205 (And The Proposed Tolling)

History of I-205

Hi and welcome to another episode of Around The Neighborhood with me, Scott McMahon.  This is the show about the quest for fun, history, and mystery in our backyard.


If this is the first time you’ve seen this show, then welcome.  Normally, I try and do fun stories on different neighborhoods throughout Oregon, but today we’re going to explore the history of Interstate 205 and more importantly what may be coming to both I-5 and I-205 in the way of tolls.


Yes, tolling the interstate.  But before we get into that, let’s take a quick stroll through the wayback machine and see what used to be here before I-205 was finished.


Originally the plan for building I-205 was to go through Multnomah County, as the Portland Metro area didn’t extend as far east as it does today.  The current committee that is working on solving the traffic problems we have in the metro area today, refer to traffic as congestion.  And they tend to refer to tolling as congestion pricing.  In the latest meeting that held on August 26th, it was brought up that there are 3 major concerns amongst residents when it comes to any improvements which is how do the changes affect SAFETY, THE ENVIRONMENT, and RACIAL INEQUALITY.


Going back to the history of I-205, it was back in 1943 when New York-based planner, Robert Moses proposed a plan to include a scenic thoroughfare for Portlanders on the east side to bypass I-5.  This plan was submitted as part of the Portland Improvement Plan … again back in 1943 and it was made by someone who didn’t even live in Oregon.


Fast forward a few years later, and things began to get momentum for the construction of I-205.  It actually took between the years 1955 - 1981 to complete this massive project.  Originally, 2 routes were proposed for the construction of I-205.


The first route would have gone along 52nd Ave and the other route would go along 96th Ave.


In 1961, it was decided that I-205 would be built along the outer loop along 96th Ave.  Originally, I-205 wasn’t planned to connect to any particular road in the southern section.  From the beginning it was determined that I-205 would have to connect to the Mt. Hood Freeway.  Later on, it appeared that I-205 would just connect to Lake Oswego at some point and congestion would flow through that town in order to connect to I-5.


Well, once the alignment plans were announced you can imagine that everyone embraced it with open arms.  Haha.  Of course not, in a 1965 cartoon from the Oregonian, it illustrates the gopher problem of different protest groups who didn’t want I-205 going through their neighborhoods.


One of the strongest and most influential of these groups came from Lake Oswego who were able to convince the planners to push I-205 further south to connect to I-5 through Tualatin and West Linn.


While on the north end of the proposed alignment of I-205, the Maywood Park community were able to push the alignment plans for I-205 further east away from Portland where it connects today.


Continuous public protests prolonged the construction of I-205, as it wasn’t until 1970 that the first part of the finished interstate opened.  But take a look at this map.  It originally connected over the Columbia River by way of 96th Ave, then cutting east/west along the Mt. Hood Freeway just above Powell Blvd.  Also in 1970, the southern part of I-205 connected West Linn to Oregon City with the opening of the Abernethy Bridge, named after George Abernethy, the governor of the Provisional Government of the Oregon Country from 1945-1849.


It took another 12 years before I-205 connected the north end with the south end in 1982.


Most of this history was presented by Emily Benoit who is part of the consultation team that is assisting the planning committee for today’s next challenge … to toll or not to toll?


Anyway, that’s a little bit of history of how I-205 was built.


The reason I brought up the history of protests, is because I suppose the current planning committee expects the same from today’s proposed tolling of both I-5 and I-205.


As I understand it, the tolling of both I-5 and I-205 would generate ongoing tax dollars that would have to be spent on current and future “congestion” remedies.


During the last open house online meeting, which ran 2.5 hours, they only discussed public comments and feedback for 7-minutes of that time.  For the most part the communities and constituents don’t like the idea of tolls.  But apparently, one of the transportation directors within one of the Portland initiatives is in favor of what they call “congestion pricing”.


For those living at the southern end of I-205, the concern is if they propose a toll, or what ODOT has deemed a “tax” from the stretch between Stafford Road and the Abernethy Bridge, what prevents residents from just getting off Stafford and taking the backroads through town to get back home?  What happens to the businesses off the 10th Street exit?  Or along Highway 43 exits?


I don’t have the answers, but if you’d like to learn more I’ve included all the links in the description of this video.  You’re probably only wanting to know where to send public comments?  We’ll this is the link that ODOT has supplied is to ...


Send an email or voicemail to the project team at either:




Or call 503-837-3536 that’s 503-837-3536


Now, here’s the kicker.  They are taking comments up to September 16th.  So, if you have some ideas of concerns, be sure to get them in.


Again, I’ll leave all the pertinent links in the description of this video.


Thanks for taking the time to watch this video, and since the show is sponsored by my real estate services all my contact information is listed below.


In the meantime, I’m off to another extended Wednesday at the Willamette Summer Market.  In fact, I did a whole series on the market in which you can find more videos at Around the Neighborhood.tv, again that’s at Around the Neighborhood.tv.


Thanks for watching and I’ll see you around the neighborhood.



Email: OregonTolling@odot.state.or.us

Call: 503-837-3536

Link: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/tolling/Pages/I-205-Tolling.aspx

Link: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/tolling/Pages/Advisory-Committee.aspx#EMAC3




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Scott McMahon, Real Estate Broker

Licensed in the State of Oregon

Premiere Property Group, LLC



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