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December 28, 2020 9:45 AM, EST

Oregon Commission Approves $2.2 Billion for Transportation Improvement Program

OregonTrucks travel on Interstate 5 outside Albany, Ore. (Oregon Department of Transportation)

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The Oregon Transportation Commission approved an initial plan to invest approximately $2.2 billion in future projects through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

The program funds construction projects associated with roads, bridges, public transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The recently approved program accounts for projects that will take place from 2024 to 2027.

The five-member commission, appointed by the governor, is responsible for establishing state transportation policy. The members must represent different geographic regions and political parties.

“Oregon has a broad range of transportation needs that cannot be fully met by existing resources,” Oregon Transportation Commission Chairman Robert Van Brocklin said. “The investments we are developing in this [Statewide Transportation Improvement Program] will help us make progress on multiple fronts, including improving mobility across the state, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, addressing congestion, improving safety and seismic response efforts, improving freight mobility and keeping existing roads and bridges in good repair.”

Oregon

Van Brocklin

Some $255 million in funding for public and active transportation projects was included in the program. This figure marks an increase of about $100 million in funding dedicated from 2021 to 2024.

The program also dedicates funding for pavement and bridge maintenance, although some state highways still are expected to experience minor deterioration over the period covered by the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s Bridge Report, some 5.2% of Oregon’s bridges are classified as structurally deficient. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates the agency would need hundreds of millions of dollars more to sustain aging bridges and pavement.

Additionally, the commission dedicated funding for safety improvements, efforts to address bottlenecks and resources for ODOT to make state highways accessible to those with disabilities that restrict mobility.

RoadSigns

In this year in review episode, we discuss COVID and everything from gas tax to remote work. With the help of our special Transport Topics guests, Seth Clevenger and Eleanor Lamb, we’ll also begin to map a plan for 2021. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

The commission formed its investment decisions based on the state’s Strategic Action Plan, which outlines goals to build a modern transportation system by preserving roads and bridges, reducing crashes, improving access to public transportation, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating growing congestion. One key theme of the Strategic Action Plan is equity to ensure all users share the same burdens and benefits of the transportation system.

More than 1,000 constituents submitted comments to the commission over a period of months. Common themes included support for investing in efforts to prevent roads and bridges from deteriorating, addressing congestion and increasing funding for bicycle, pedestrian and transit programs to help address equity and climate change.

The commission’s approval marks the first step in developing the 2024-27 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. In January, the group will review recommendations on how to allocate funding within the categories of transportation.

After that step, ODOT will spend two years using data on road and bridge conditions and safety issues, as well as discussions with community members and advisory committees, to develop and refine the list of projects. The commission will hold a final public comment opportunity in 2023 before making any adjustments and signing off on the final program.

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