In 2009, Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners adopted a $19 per year county vehicle registration fee (VRF) to fund the County’s new Sellwood Bridge. In 2018, Multnomah County updated its code to the broad authority granted by the Oregon Legislature in 2009, allowing the County to use its local VRF revenue on other Willamette River bridge projects. VRF revenue continues to pay debt on the new Sellwood Bridge, and is also used for planning the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project.

On December 5, 2019, the Board of County Commissioners voted to increase the County’s VRF by $37 per year, to help fund the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project. The project to replace or retrofit the Burnside Bridge is expected to cost between $580 million and $860 million. The fee increase takes effect in January 2021. Learn more information on the VRF increase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is revenue from Multnomah County’s VRF used?

Revenue from Multnomah County’s VRF is used to pay off the new Sellwood Bridge and to plan the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project. The Sellwood Bridge debt is being paid off on its original schedule.

Why is the Burnside Bridge project funded by the County’s VRF?

In 2016, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a 20-year plan for its Willamette River bridges. Understanding the threat of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake to its historic downtown bridges, the Board made the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project a top priority. The project will require the County’s largest ever transportation investment in the next decade. Its purpose is to make sure the bridge can withstand a major earthquake to help reunite families and regional recovery efforts.

Why is the Burnside Bridge project a top priority?

An operator tower of the Burnside Bridge with the Portland Oregon sign and West Hills in the background

None of the Willamette River bridges in downtown Portland are expected to be usable for weeks or months after a major Cascadia Zone earthquake. The downtown bridges were designed and built before the region’s history of major earthquakes was understood. There is a one in three chance that a major earthquake will strike the region in the next 50 years. Having at least one earthquake-ready downtown bridge will help us respond and recover when the earthquake strikes.

How much is the current County fee?

The current County fee is $19 per year per vehicle, or $38 for a two-year renewal. The fee applies to Multnomah County residents that pay a state vehicle registration fee. Trucks weighing 26,000 lbs. or more pay a separate weight/mile fee in accordance with state law. The County fee is in addition to the state vehicle registration fee. If a vehicle is registered within the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) air testing area, a $21 emissions certificate of compliance is also required.

How and when do County residents pay the fee?

Multnomah County residents pay the fee to Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (formerly the DMV) when they renew their state vehicle registration on a two-year cycle.

The fee can be paid at DMV offices, by mail or online at https://dmv2u.oregon.gov/eServices/. If you do not have an address change at the time of renewal, County residents may pay the fee at an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality vehicle inspection station after passing the required emissions test.

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