Salem – The Oregon Transportation Commission yesterday reviewed possible scenarios for allocating $412 million of flexible funding that is included in the $1.2 billion federal infrastructure bill enacted last November. The funds are being allocated to Oregon over the next five years.
The commission directed ODOT staff to analyze scenarios that prioritized road and bridge preservation, transit, earthquake preparedness, biking, walking and safety. There was consensus that funding for highway expansion projects should not be the priority of this flexible funding.
“We are committed to preserving the existing transportation network and investing in a range of improvements to reduce congestion and harmful emissions, and to support improved safety, electric vehicles, transit, and local improvements,” said Commission Chair Robert Van Brocklin. “The proposed scenarios will allow ODOT to invest in Oregon’s transportation system in these and other important ways.”
Yesterday’s meeting included more than an hour of public comment. Legislators, mayors, city and county commissioners, and members of the public from across the state provided their views on how to allocate the flexible funding. Many of the comments focused on investing in public and active transportation, preserving road and bridge safety, improving congestion bottlenecks, addressing the needs of urban arterials, and ensuring a statewide distribution of funds
The federal infrastructure package allocated $1.2 billion in additional transportation funding for Oregon. About $800 million of that spending is directed to specific purposes. An infographic summarizing this funding can be found here: Infographic
The remaining $412 million of the federal funds is unallocated. This means the commission can direct these funds in more flexible ways.
ODOT staff originally proposed four scenarios for spending this new federal funding, each one prioritizing different aspects of the transportation system from highway enhancements to public transportation. All four scenarios proposed investing in ADA accessibility ($100 million), local climate planning ($15 million), operations and maintenance ($40 million), match for discretionary federal grants ($40 million) and business and workforce development ($3 million). Commission members expressed support for these categories while suggesting the exact numbers may change as the commission makes final decisions on March 30.
ODOT staff will spend the next three weeks analyzing these preliminary decisions and will present their findings about them to the commission later this month.
For more information on how ODOT is planning to invest these federal infrastructure dollars, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odot/Pages/IIJA.aspx.