Mon, Nov 8, 2021 11:21 AM
By Ted O’Neil | The Center Square contributor, The Center Square
(The Center Square) - The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will get at least $1 billion from the infrastructure bill approved by Congress late last week, according to a press release from ODOT.
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act won final approval Friday in the House of Representatives with the help of 13 Republicans voting in favor. Those votes were needed after six Democrats voted against the measure, saying it does not spend enough. President Joe Biden has pledged to sign the legislation.
Neighboring Washington state, meanwhile, will get $8.6 billion.
Oregon Transportation Commission Chairman Bob Van Brocklin said the money will be used for a variety of projects.
“The Oregon Transportation Commission and ODOT will direct these funds, combined with state funding from the Oregon Legislature, to make real progress on Oregon’s transportation priorities,” Van Brocklin said in a statement. “Specifically, some of the $1.2 billion will be allocated to our state in the next five years for highway and bridge construction and maintenance, safety improvements, mass transit investments, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, electric vehicle charging stations and efforts to reduce carbon emissions from transportation sources.”
A recent report from ODOT said that of the more than 2,700 bridges it maintains, the vast majority – 85% – are in fair condition, with 13% in good condition and 2% in poor condition.
“These resources will help address congestion, which is increasing in our urban areas as the state’s population continues to grow, freight mobility, earthquake recovery preparedness, passenger rail and other elements of the comprehensive mobility system we seek to create,” Van Brocklin added. “All of this work will focus on improving our economy, our environment, and the quality of life for all Oregonians.”
A good chunk of the money will be used to pay for upgrades to what is known as the I-5 Rose Quarter in Portland. I-5 is the main north-south route along the West Coast, running from Mexico to Canada as it passes through California, Oregon, and Washington.
According to ODOT, the I-5 Rose Quarter stretch has 3.5 times more crashes than the statewide freeway average and is considered to be congested for 12 hours per day. The highway lacks full shoulders in many spots, making it difficult to clear crashes and slowing response times for emergency vehicles.
The full cost of the project is pegged at $1.2 billion, the same amount Oregon is getting from the infrastructure bill, although legislators have already set aside $700 million for it.
The infrastructure bill also repeals the Employee Retention Credit, making it something that Oregon and other businesses will not be able to claim on wages paid after September, and strengthens the tax reporting requirement for cryptocurrency transactions.