ConnectOregon returns for a fifth round of multimodal investments
Like a popular TV series that keeps getting renewed, the Oregon Legislature has approved $42 million in funding for a fifth installment of the multimodal ConnectOregon program.
Oregon V will be similar to past rounds of funding. However, Senate Bill 260
made bicycle and pedestrian projects that are not eligible for State Highway Funds eligible to compete for Connect
Oregon funding. ODOT was directed by a budget note in House Bill 5008
to withhold 5 percent of project funds until the project is complete and the final report is accepted.
ODOT will start the application process in the fall and will engage modal and regional stakeholder groups in the project evaluation and selection process. Final selection of projects by the Oregon Transportation Commission should come in the summer of 2014.
ConnectOregon was created in 2005 by the Legislature to invest the proceeds of lottery-backed bonds in grants and loans to non-highway transportation projects that promote economic development in Oregon. With this fifth infusion, the Legislature has provided a total of $382 million in ConnectOregon funding.
The Oregon Transportation Commission has awarded $340 million in the first four rounds of ConnectOregon to 203 projects, based on an in-depth review process by a number of stakeholder committees. With the addition of leveraged funds, the program represents approximately $834 million in direct investment in multimodal transportation improvements. In the first four rounds of ConnectOregon, rail received the largest portion of funds, at 44 percent of the total. Aviation received 26 percent, marine projects received 16 percent, and transit received 11 percent.
A recent survey of ConnectOregon I-III grant recipients who have completed their projects indicates that the public benefits derived from ConnectOregon funding can be classified into four categories:
• Reduces transportation costs for Oregon businesses
• Improves access to jobs and sources of labor
• Provides economic benefits
• Provides critical transportation linkages
Earlier this year ODOT provided the Legislature a report
on the Connect
Oregon program that describes the program, discusses the benefits of specific projects, and provides a list of all funded projects.