During its April 18 meeting, the Port of Hood River Board of Commissioners approved a resolution establishing a toll revenue use policy that would commit all toll revenues exclusively to bridge repair and replacement no later than
June 30, 2026. “It’s important that Port constituents understand that their Port is making this historic and consequential change to its business model,” said Executive Director Kevin Greenwood. “The new bridge will need an entirely different governance structure, and the Port supports the Bi State Bridge Authority structure to serve that function.”
Earlier this year, on February 21st, the Commission passed approval of a Commission Formation Agreement for the Hood River White Salmon Bridge Authority which is expected to assume all responsibility for replacement of the bridge. All six parties to the Agreement, the cities of Hood River, White Salmon, and Bingen, Hood River and Klickitat counties, and the Port of Hood River have signed and approved that the new Hood River White Salmon Bridge Authority will begin on July 1, 2023.
One of only two tolling agencies in Oregon, the Port has owned and operated the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge since 1950. Historically, toll revenues have supported the operation and maintenance of the bridge, capital upgrades to the bridge and tolling system infrastructure, and other activities including economic development and waterfront parks and open spaces.
“The Port Commission will, in the shortest timeline possible, reduce costs and find other revenue sources to cover non-bridge expenses or right size and share responsibilities for the public services provided,” said Port Commissioner Kristi Chapman. “It’s an historic challenge for our communities.”
While the Port will continue to own and operate the existing bridge until the new bridge opens, the Commission intends to take an aggressive path away from reliance on toll revenue. With a very low property tax rate of only 3.32 cents per $1,000 in Assessed Value, the Port has a significant challenge ahead in funding parks and open spaces that, without toll revenue, would typically be funded by property taxes or other forms of tax revenue. “The Port Commission and staff will be working to identify and implement, in all areas of operation, ways to reduce reliance on toll revenue on a steep trajectory toward zero by the end of June 2026, if not sooner,” said Port Commission President Ben Sheppard. “A concerted, rigorous, and transparent effort to identify and maximize cost efficiencies in port administration and operations will be underway throughout the coming year.” Periodic reports on progress toward this objective will be provided by the Port’s Finance Director Debbie Smith-Wagar at least twice a year.