REMARKS AS PREPARED
Sunrise Expressway Grand Opening
June 30, 2016
Good morning. I am thrilled to join you in this celebration of the opening of Sunrise Expressway.
Today’s grand opening of the Sunrise Expressway is truly a community celebration. Thank you to ODOT for delivering this project on time and on budget. Kudos also got to the project’s prime contractor, Brent Kerr and the team at Kerr Contractors. Thank you!
Rarely is the opening of a highway greeted with such community fanfare, which is a testament to just how much this project is needed.
The Clackamas Sunrise Corridor is an essential freight route from I-5 and I-205 to U.S. 26 and Eastern Oregon.
As Oregon’s population has grown and as the economy continues to improve, congestion has increased and so have demands for freight transportation.
Oregon is facing a tremendous challenge with aging transportation infrastructure and mind-numbing traffic. Metro-area congestion is getting worse and impacts traffic statewide. On average, -metro commuters will waste 52 hours each year fighting traffic.
Thanks to the yearlong effort of the Transportation Vision Panel, we now have a much better idea of the transportation challenges affecting communities throughout the state.
Their recently released report calls for creative solutions to increase the capacity of our transportation system. We also must make critical investments in seismic infrastructure improvements and more investments transit to meet the needs of Oregon communities.
Unless we act now, congestion and infrastructure challenges will only get worse. By 2035, Oregon’s population is expected to increase by 25% and freight volume is expected to increase by 60%.
A well-managed transportation system is the backbone of a thriving Oregon economy. Good, safe roads allow the statewide economy to flow efficiently, keeping costs down and sustaining jobs.
The Sunrise Expressway is a prime example of how strategic transportation investments can ease congestion and spur economic growth so all Oregonians can thrive.
Once open, the Sunrise Expressway will divert almost 20,000 daily trips off existing roads and reduce the cost of congestion by more than $20 million per year. And as we’ll hear more from Mike French, Fred Meyer anticipates that the new Sunrise Expressway will save truckers over 100 hours a week.
This means goods can get to market quicker, and it reduces the time commercial, diesel trucks spend idling in traffic — which helps reduce harmful diesel emissions.
This project, and the eight others in Clackamas, was made possible by the Jobs and Transportation Act. When the Legislature approved the Jobs and Transportation Act in 2009, they allocated $960 million to fund projects throughout the state, the largest transportation package ever passed in Oregon.
These projects have significant benefits to local communities and unlock key economic development opportunities. These investments have proven to reduce congestion and will support a strong business sector Oregon needs to keep our economic engines humming.
The JTA funding allocated seven years ago will bring to fruition 57 projects throughout the state. These projects activated local economies and add much needed family-wage jobs to Oregonians.
As everyone here knows, communities in every region the state continue to face mounting transportation challenges, and we must act now to renew our investments in transportation to support a strong economy.
Maintaining our transportation infrastructure is key to continued economic growth throughout the state.
I look forward to engaging with Oregonians to find creative solutions that meets the transportation needs of all communities. And I am committed to working with the legislature to develop a robust transportation package for the 2017 session so we can move Oregon forward.
Rian Windschimer, ODOT Region 1 Manager, will then introduce the next speaker.