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Committee approves legislation to honor veterans with signs along the 477-mile road inside Oregon.

COURTESY PHOTO - A proposed sign that could be added to U.S. Highway 30 to honor military veterans.Legislation to rename Oregon's 477-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 30 to honor military veterans is headed to a vote by the state Senate.

Members of the Senate Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness agreed Thursday afternoon, March 18, to send Senate Bill 790 to a full Senate vote with a recommendation that it be approved.

Only state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, a Klamath Falls Republican, voted against the action. Linthicum and other Republicans are voting against legislation in committee meetings to protest closure of the Capitol because of COVID-19 safety measures.

No date has been set for a Senate vote on the legislation. The bill was amended to include on highway signs seals of all military branches, including the National Guard.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, a Bend Republican, introduced SB 790 to rename U.S. Highway 30 between Astoria and the Idaho border the Oregon Veterans Memorial Highway. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dick Tobiason of the nonprofit Bend Heroes Foundation is the driving force behind the bill.

Tobiason and the Bend Heroes Foundation will raise money to create 4-by-8-foot signs to be posted along the highway with the veterans designation (probably more than $10,000 for Highway 30). The group will pay Oregon's Department of Transportation to install them.

There are nearly 100 signs honoring veterans installed on eight Oregon highways stretching more than 3,000 miles across the state. Each designated highway has between 10 and 18 signs, he said. That means drivers could see one veterans highway honor sign every 65 miles.

Veterans groups and Oregon's Department of Transportation supported the proposal during a Senate committee hearing Tuesday, March 16.

U.S. Highway 30 extends 3,073 miles to Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the East Coast. It is the only major highway in Oregon not designated to honor veterans. It crosses 11 states and is the nation's third longest coast-to-coast highway.

Oregon's section of the highway winds along the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge through Scappoose and Portland before heading east as part of Interstate 84.

Tobiason also is working with 10 other states to get the same highway designation all the way to the East Coast.

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