Author: Galen Ettlin (KGW)
PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Agencies in Oregon and Washington are preparing to receive billions of dollars in federal funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, newly passed by Congress on Friday.
“This really is an exciting time,” said Katherine Benenati, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). “We want to put these dollars to use as soon as possible.”
ODOT is focused on projects that have been planned for a while and are ready for development.
The Interstate 5 bridge spanning Oregon and Washington is a big candidate. The Rose Quarter highway redesign project is another.
Although the final details are not set in stone, ODOT estimates Oregon will receive about $1.2 billion in additional transportation funding over the next five years.
Washington is set to get about $1.8 billion for similar projects.
“Badly needed,” Sen. Patty Murray told KING 5. “Every community in our state will benefit from this bill.”
In Oregon, ODOT said money will fund highway and bridge construction and maintenance, safety improvements, mass transit investments, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, electric vehicle charging stations, and efforts to reduce carbon emissions from transportation sources.
Other Oregon municipalities on the county and city level will also receive $200 million for local projects.
President Joe Biden’s original infrastructure bill was slated for more than $2 trillion earlier this year, but was scaled back in order to pass with some bipartisan support.
To pay for it, some unused federal money is being repurposed. However, the New York Times reports, the Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would add $256 billion to the deficit over 10 years.
Locally, ODOT says the need is now. Many bridges are beyond their 50-year lifespan.
Travis Brouwer, ODOT’s assistant director of Revenue, Finance and Compliance, spoke with KGW in April.
“The scope of the need is enormous,” he said. “We’re going to have to shut down some of those bridges if we can’t replace them.”
ODOT plans to review the legislation and release more information about specifics and next steps this week.