ODOT airs options for federal infrastructure investments
Public is invited to comment on decision-making process
January 27, 2022 | View PDF
SALEM: Last Thursday the Oregon Transportation Commission began to consider options for allocating the $412 million of flexible funding that is part of the $1.2 billion in new transportation funding allocated to Oregon by the federal infrastructure package.
Under consideration are investing in ADA accessibility, road repair and maintenance, bicycle and pedestrian projects, and public transportation, as well as highway enhancements. Officials say the commission will use the scenarios to seek public comment and determine the best ways to allocate funds, but is not bound to choose any specific scenario.
Last week’s meeting drew hundreds of written comments along with more than an hour of public comment. Elected officials and other members of the public from across the state provided a broad range of opinions.
Many of the comments shared a few major themes: investing in public transit along with projects for biking and walking, preserving roads and bridges, and addressing highway bottlenecks.
This was the first meeting of the commission on the question of how to allocate these funds. It will hold additional meetings on the topic on February 17th, March 10th and March 30th.
At the March 30th meeting, the commission will provide their directives to ODOT on how to allocate the funds.
About $800 million of the $1.2 billion infrastructure package spending is directed to specific purposes including:
• $268 million to repair and replace aging bridges.
• $52 million to construct new electric vehicle charging stations across Oregon.
• $82 million to invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• $94 million to increase the transportation system’s resilience to earthquakes, natural disasters, and climate change.
• $45 million to invest in improving transportation safety for all users.
• $30 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
• About $200 million for local governments to invest in community priorities.
• $200 million in additional formula funding for transit.
A total of $412 million of the federal funds are unallocated. That means the commission can direct these funds in more flexible ways.
“We deeply appreciate that our federal delegation delivered this funding for Oregon,” said Commission Chair Robert Van Brocklin. “These resources will help us make vital improvements to our transportation system. We face a $5 billion bridge maintenance backlog. The I-205 seismic and congestion project alone will cost upward of $700 million. We need to invest heavily in electric vehicle infrastructure,”
“We can make progress on many of our goals, but we cannot solve the vast majority of our funding problems with the money from this legislation,” Van Brocklin added.
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