Transportation package to aid local East County and Gresham projects, roadways, reps say.

FILE PHOTO - Rep. Chris Goresk, D-Troutdale, and Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham.With the $5.3 billion transportation package signed into effect earlier this week, local representatives hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday, Aug. 30, to discuss how the money will be used to support East Multnomah County while also discussing their plans for the upcoming Legislative session.

Representatives Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale and Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, engaged with community members while answering their questions and listening to any concerns during the meeting at the Rockwood Public Safety Building, 675 N.E. 181st Ave.

"It is always nice working with Representative Gorsek because we have accomplished a lot of things together," Piluso said.

The Oregon transportation package funds specific infrastructure projects across the state, with 50 percent of new revenues being directed to cities and counties for local maintenance and improvements.

"The package will have an important impact on our community," Piluso said.

Each of the local cities will receive yearly funds for maintenance — Gresham, $2.7 million; Fairview, $226,000; Troutdale, $405,000; Wood Village, $99,000. In addition, Multnomah County will get $18 million and $71 million will be directed to TriMet.

The package will give $110 million for improvements to Southeast Powell Boulevard, and $3 million for Graham Road in Troutdale. The final amount dedicated to local projects will be $30.7 million to help with traffic management and a bottleneck on Interstate 205.

Part of the money will be used to fix the final section of the Troutdale Interchange, widening the eastern terminus of the road.

"This is something that will help all the cities because it's an important piece for moving commerce," Gorsek said. "This is what we are in office for, making things better."

During the town hall people voiced concerns about speeding on several roads in the community.

"In my first term, I talked to the Fairview police chief who wanted photo radar in school zones," Gorsek said. "But we got a lot of push back from the community."

Future plans

This winter will be a short session for the Legislature, which means it will only last five weeks and each representative can only bring forward two potential bills.

Piluso will be revisiting one of her bills that was killed last session, which relates to the parental rights of blind people.

"One of my constituents, a young blind mom, was told she couldn't care for her children," Piluso said. "I believe any individual, sighted or blind, can fully function as a parent."

The other thing she is working on is centered on defining consent in relation to sex crimes. She is working with the Attorney General's office and local law enforcement agencies to find a better way to determine whether consent has or has not been given.

Gorsek is also revisiting a bill that failed last session in committee. He plans on reintroducing legislation that will require whitewater rafting rental companies offer helmets to customers under a certain age.

The other is in response to public transit drivers, who are often assaulted while working. Gorsek wants to elevate any attack against them by passengers to a Class C Felony, which has a maximum potential prison term of five years and maximum potential fine of $125,000.

The bill would also expand existing protections for drivers, which currently only kick in when the bus is in motion, to be at all times.

"We want to protect our drivers," Gorsek said.

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