Governor Kate Brown was in Washington, D.C., this week to, among other things, attend the signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by President Joe Biden — at least $5 billion of which will be routed into a wide variety of transit projects throughout Oregon, according to state officials.
Most of that money will be earmarked for roads, but the state will also receive generous amounts for bridges, public transportation, electric vehicle chargers, internet, airports and drinking water filtration and distribution systems.
“This is the biggest investment in our highway and bridge system since Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Kurt Schrader, Canby’s Democratic congressional representative, said in various news reports. “Come on man, that’s 60, 70 years ago. Biggest investment ever.”
Brown praised the bill as a “historic investment” and a “gamechanger for Oregon,” rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges throughout the state, expanding access to clean drinking water and broadband internet in rural and remote communities and helping prepare for future disaster recovery.
“Infrastructure is critical to supporting the way Oregonians live, travel and stay active,” Brown said. “This bill will both modernize our infrastructure and bring good-paying jobs to communities across our state — all while helping tackle climate change. We are excited and ready.”
Governor Kate Brown on Twitter: “It was an honor to witness @POTUS sign the #BipartisanInfrastructureDeal into law today. This bill will both modernize our infrastructure and bring good-paying jobs to communities across our state – all while helping tackle climate change. We are excited and ready. https://t.co/OwrrSYXmxg / Twitter”
It was an honor to witness @POTUS sign the #BipartisanInfrastructureDeal into law today. This bill will both modernize our infrastructure and bring good-paying jobs to communities across our state – all while helping tackle climate change. We are excited and ready. https://t.co/OwrrSYXmxg
Brown said the bill will funnel $3.4 billion to the state over five years to help modernize Oregon’s roads and highways, including $268 million for bridge replacement and repairs.
An additional $747 million will go toward upgrading public transportation systems and $529 million will provide clean water and water infrastructure to areas where that is currently lacking — including the Warm Springs Reservation, which suffered a severe water crisis earlier this year.
A combined investment of some $184 million will be made to expand access to affordable, high-speed internet, establish a new electric vehicle charging stations and protect against wildfire destruction, the governor said.
“Earlier this year, I outlined to Congress the vital resources Oregon needed to succeed,” Brown said. “The Biden-Harris Administration and our Congressional delegation listened, and they delivered. Thank you.”
Schrader was also in attendance as the bill was signed in an outdoor ceremony at the White House Monday.
“It was exciting to watch President Biden sign the once-in-a-century legislation into law at the White House,” he said in an email to constituents. “This milestone proves both parties can come together to secure monumental investments that will ensure our nation’s successful long-term recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and reassert our global competitiveness.”
The funding hasn’t been allocated to specific projects, but Schrader told the Statesman Journal‘s Bill Poehler that he’s looking forward to playing “a little bit of Santa Claus in a fiscally responsible way to our communities.”
“We’re going to be able to do things we could only imagine would have taken maybe another decade to accomplish,” Schrader said. “And for some of the smaller towns in the district, if you’re up at Detroit Lake … you’re going to have the opportunity to rebuild your water system with federal help.”
About $150 million of the initial money it will receive must be allocated in the current fiscal year and the Oregon Transportation Commission will have to decide what programs it can get to that point quickly.
The Oregon Transportation Commission will receive a briefing about the additional funds it will receive at its Nov. 18 meeting and will decide by March how to spend about a third of the $1.2 billion it expects to receive from the bill.
Sen. Ron Wyden, as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, will have a role in making sure the legislation invests in children, caregiving and affordable housing, lowers prescription drug costs, and tackles the climate crisis.
“I’ve said for a long time, you can’t have a big league economy with little league infrastructure,” Wyden said about the bill passing. “My work isn’t over to deliver on equally important priorities in the Build Back Better package.”
Nationally, Wyden said the bill will create a competitive grant program to assist with the repair and replacement of crumbling bridges, provide $12.5 billion in funding to repair bridges across the U.S., and help states, cities and counties repair and replace their smaller deficient bridges.
The 2020 American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure found there are at least 46,154 bridges in the U.S. that are ‘structurally deficient’ and 231,000 still need repair and preservation work.
“For far too long, the phrase ‘infrastructure week’ was nothing but a cruel joke for communities throughout Oregon and the country needing significant investments to deal with crumbling bridges and roads,” Wyden said.
“Today we delivered with the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law. And with the Bridge Investment Act included, Oregon will now have the resources it needs to fix our aging bridges to improve safety, create jobs and promote economic growth in our state.”
ODOT officials shared more information about how the spending package will impact Oregon’s infrastructure in a presentation last week, which is now available online.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!