Oregon Transportation Commission reviews possible options for federal infrastructure investments

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Oregon Transportation Commission reviews possible options for federal infrastructure investments

Today’s meeting was one of many opportunities the public will have to engage in the federal funding decision-making process

Jan. 20, 2021

For more information, contact Kevin Glenn, ODOT Communications Director, 503-910-5965 or Kevin.Glenn@odot.oregon.gov 

Salem - The Oregon Transportation Commission today 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.

The scenarios proposed investing in ADA accessibility, road repair and maintenance, bicycle and pedestrian projects, public transportation, and highway enhancements among other options. Details on these proposed scenarios can be found by clicking here. The commission will use the scenarios to seek public comment and determine how best to allocate funds, but is not bound to choose any specific scenario.

Today’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 their views on how to allocate the funding, reflecting a broad range of opinions.

Many of the comments shared a few major themes: investing in public transit and projects for biking and walking, preserving road and bridge conditions, addressing congestion bottlenecks on state highways, addressing the needs of urban arterials, improving safety, ensuring a fair regional distribution of funds, investing in environmental projects, and expanding electric vehicle charging opportunities across the state.

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 Feb. 17, March 10 and March 30. During this time, the public is encouraged to submit comments to the commission on this important decision. The public can do so by clicking here. At the March 30 meeting, the commission will provide final direction to ODOT on how to allocate these funds.

The federal infrastructure package allocated $1.2 billion in additional transportation funding for Oregon.  About $800 million of that spending is federally directed to these specific purposes:

  • $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.

An infographic summarizing this funding can be found here.

A total of $412 million of the federal funds are unallocated. This means the commission can direct these funds in more flexible ways. That flexible funding was the focus of today’s meeting. ODOT’s proposal and funding options is available here.

“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. But this funding should also be viewed in context. 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. We also need to pursue other revenue sources to produce sustainable transportation funding to invest in a reliable, diverse transportation system.”

For more information on how ODOT is planning to invest these federal infrastructure dollars, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Pages/IIJA.aspx.