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Federal government provides $28 million for Oregon transportation projects
Transportation projects across Oregon — from major highway projects on I-5 and new buses for transit districts throughout the state to covered bridges and trails in the Columbia Gorge —  recently received a boost from a significant infusion of funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) together awarded 25 grants to Oregon transportation projects totaling more than $28 million.  FHWA awarded Oregon $15.8 million for 18 projects — the second highest total of any state in the nation, behind only California.  FTA chipped in $12.3 million for bus-related projects.
ODOT Director Matt Garrett thanked federal partners for their investment in Oregon’s transportation system.
“This money will put people to work all across Oregon, and Oregonians will benefit from reduced congestion, increased opportunities for tourism and recreation, safer roads and more transportation options,” he said. “I am grateful for the support the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided, and I want to thank Oregon’s congressional delegation for helping obtain this money for Oregon.”
Highlights of the funding include:
·         Interstates:  The I-5 Columbia River Crossing and the I-5 Woodburn Interchange each received $3.3 million from FHWA.  The Columbia River Crossing, which will replace the Interstate Bridge between Portland and Vancouver, extend light rail to Vancouver, and improve a number of congested interchanges, has been a regular recipient of federal funding.  The I-5 Woodburn Interchange received significant funding from the Oregon Legislature in the 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act, and the FHWA grant will help close the remaining funding gap so the project can go to construction in 2013.
·         Safety:  A number of projects will improve safety, including a high-tech system that will monitor weather conditions on US 26 and Oregon 35 leading to Mt. Hood and warn travelers of hazardous conditions, including adjusting speed limits.  Shoulders will be improved for bicyclists on Territorial Highway, a major bicycle tour route in Lane County, and railroad crossing gates will be upgraded at 40 crossings throughout the Willamette Valley.
·         Public transportation:  The three largest transit agencies in Oregon — TriMet, Lane Transit District, and the Salem Area Mass Transit District — received funding to replace transit vehicles, and ODOT’s Public Transit Division also received a grant that will help transit agencies in small towns and rural areas replace important vehicles.
A number of the FHWA programs, including Historic Covered Bridges and Scenic Byways, provided funding for projects that will improve tourism and recreation opportunities for rural Oregon communities.
·         Covered Bridges:  Oregon has more than 50 covered bridges that draw thousands of tourists to rural communities and highlight the state's history.  Four bridges in Lane County — the Unity, Pengra, Office and Wildcat Creek covered bridges—and the Mckee Covered Bridge in Jackson County received funding that will replace roofs and structural components to keep the bridges functioning.  Oregon received more funding for covered bridges-- $1.55 million-- than all but two other states.
·         Scenic Byways:  Oregon received $2 million for three projects on its Scenic Byways, including improvements to the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Newport and a trail network along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway near Bend.  Oregon received more Scenic Byways funding than all but two other states.
  • Columbia Gorge:  A number of projects that will improve recreation opportunities in the Columbia Gorge received funding.  These include parking and restroom improvements to Celilo Park on the Columbia River and trails along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.
A list of all the grants is available online.