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COLUMN: Kris Strickler's KEEP OREGON MOVING

New opportunities await with federal infrastructure package.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Funds from the newly passed federal infrastructure package could provide a big boost to the replacement of the Interstate Bridge.In a bipartisan fashion, Congress delivered a significant investment in our nation's infrastructure in early November.

The package allocates billions of dollars to shore up our nation's infrastructure, from upgrading our power and water systems to expanding high-speed internet to underserved communities. It also includes a substantial investment in our transportation network.

We've never seen anything quite like this $1.2 billion in additional transportation spending coming to Oregon from that package. The Portland area and the rest of Oregon will benefit for decades to come from this historic investment.

This package is unlike past federal infrastructure investments. Everyone will reap the benefits — drivers, bicyclists, truckers, pedestrians and transit riders — whether they live or work in cities, suburbs or rural areas. This funding will help us address some of our most critical transportation challenges, including climate change and congestion.

These funds will go to safety upgrades, electric vehicle charging stations, highway and bridge construction and maintenance, mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and efforts to reduce carbon emissions from transportation sources.

KRIS STRICKLERIt brings more than improvements in our day-to-day lives. For example, less traffic congestion and upgraded infrastructure will help businesses big and small, and their workers connect with their customers all over the area.

All these projects will boost Oregon's economy by providing solid family wage jobs — many of them as a part of our Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. The program supports companies owned by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women to grow, hire more people, and provide more benefits like health care and retirement.

We're still analyzing the legislation to determine exactly how much funding ODOT will receive. We've been monitoring congressional action on this bill, though, and have been preparing.

Many projects are ready for construction, and others are in the final stages of planning, so we hope to move quickly.

Two major projects in the Portland region could benefit from this federal investment. Both the Interstate Bridge Replacement program and the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project are excellent candidates for grant funding available in the bill.

The Reconnecting Communities program, for example, could help pay for the highway cover and other elements of the Rose Quarter project that would help stitch together the Albina neighborhood torn apart by the construction of I-5 and other urban redevelopment projects in the mid-twentieth century. The bill also includes a new program for replacing bridges and a new program for large projects, both of which could be an option for the Interstate Bridge Replacement program.

COURTESY GRAPHIC: ODOT - Another potential use for federal funds could be the Rose Quarter Improvement Project, which, in this proposal, would involve building a cover over the top of I-5.The bill allocates tens of millions of dollars for bicycle and pedestrian facilities, transit and other sustainable transportation infrastructure. Our goal at ODOT is to provide travel options so that people can make the right travel choice for them. The more opportunities we provide for bicycling, walking or taking transit, the more people can leave the car at home. That can help improve our health, reduce our contributions to climate change and reduce congestion for everyone who chooses to drive.

The bill covers a lot of ground for Oregon. Here's a quick overview.

Bridges. We expect more than $250 million to repair, rehabilitate and replace aging bridges.

Electric Vehicle Charging. The bill directs $50 million to ODOT to construct new electric vehicle charging stations across the state.

Resilience. The bill provides $94 million for increasing our resilience to earthquakes, natural disasters and for adapting to climate change.

Carbon Reduction. ODOT and local governments will receive a combined $82 million for projects reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Safety. State and local governments will see an additional $40 million for improving transportation safety.

Transit. Around the state, transit districts will see funding increases and grants available to upgrade fleets and invest in low and zero-emission vehicles.

These new resources will help us improve many aspects of our transportation system, including freight mobility, earthquake recovery preparedness, and passenger rail, and will help us move forward in building the comprehensive mobility system we seek to create.

We're excited to get to work delivering these projects that will help improve our economy, our environment and the quality of life of all Oregonians.


Kris Strickler is the director of ODOT. Comments can be directed to 888-Ask-ODOT or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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