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Combination of state and federal money could boost plans for both Newberg-Dundee bypass and Aurora-Donald I-5 interchange.

{img:311001}Oregon lawmakers are showing the Newberg-Dundee bypass project a whole lotta love.

State legislators provided $32 million for the bypass's second-phase work at the Highway 219 interchange as the 2021 legislative session wrapped up in June. In Congress, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici included another $8 million for the bypass project as part of the $715 billion Invest In America Act (H.R. 3684) that passed the U.S. House July 1.

State funds adopted in the 60-page, end-of-the-session House Bill 5006's more-than $2 billion funding package could be enough to get planning and design started for part of the project's second phase, according to Oregon Department of Transportation officials. That work includes redesigning the bypass connection with Highway 219, realigning Wynooski Road's intersection with the new Wilsonville Road connection and planning for a new loop bridge at the bypass's Highway 219 intersection.

{img:311006}"This is very good news for our Phase 2 project," ODOT spokesman Lou Torres said. "Our plans at this point is to use the $32 million for final design, the remainder of right-of-way acquisition and construction of the Highway 219 interchange."

Torres said if the Invest in America Act's $8 million materializes (it still requires U.S. Senate approval), it could be "combined with other local and state funding to leverage other federal and state funding opportunities in the future." The possible $40 million in state/federal funding provided about a quarter of the second phase's estimated $160 million cost, he said.

The bypass opened in January 2018, connecting Highway 18 with Highway 219 east of Newberg. The bypass rerouted much of the traffic from busy Highway 99W through downtown Dundee.

Its second phase would extend the bypass to Highway 99W north of Newberg. ODOT has used about $10 million in savings from construction of the first phase to purchase rights of way for part of the second phase.

Funds for regional projects

The bypass was one of several regional projects included in Oregon's HB 5006. Woodburn's community center project received $15.21 million. The Molalla Rural Fire Protection District got $385,000 for wildfire protection. Yamhill County Transit secured $718,079 to offset expiring tax credits. The city of Aurora got more than $14 million for a wastewater treatment plant and a water storage facility. The city of Aumsville got $2.5 million for water system improvements. The Chehalem Cultural Center got $1.25 million for its performing arts wing.

{img:311004}Both Bonamici and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader included several regional projects in their Invest in America Act funds. Bonamici included nearly $19 million for nine projects in her proposals, mostly similar transportation-related work in Washington, Columbia, Clatsop and Multnomah counties.

Bonamici represents Oregon's 1st Congressional District, which extends from parts of Washington, Yamhill and Multnomah counties to Clatsop County on the Oregon coast. She said the Invest in America Act included "five important local transportation projects that I advocated for to help accelerate our economic recovery."

{img:311003}Schrader, representing Oregon's 5th Congressional District in the mid-Willamette Valley, proposed 11 projects, including $20 million for the Aurora-Donald interchange improvement project being designed by ODOT. That work will expand and realign the busy Interstate 5 Exit 278 to move traffic more easily onto Ehlen Road. ODOT is working on the project's first phase. The entire project could cost nearly $30 million.

{img:311005}"I support the bill because it makes serious investments in modernizing the country's existing infrastructure, while also tailoring to meet community-specific needs, like we see with the Aurora-Donald Interchange Project," Schrader said. "There's been a huge state and local effort to get this priority funded. With the funds allocated through this legislation, they are getting the final push they need to get this project online and keep Oregon moving."

Invest in America Act projects are similar to others proposed in President Biden's infrastructure plan that passed the U.S. House and awaits U.S. Senate action. According to congressional staff, the transportation-related Invest in America Act projects are on a parallel track to the Biden infrastructure plan. They could be included in a final version of the plan once it passes the U.S. Senate and is reconciled with the U.S. House version of the bill.

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