Investing in Oregon's transportation future
Connect Oregon is an initiative established by the 2005 state legislature to invest in non-highway modes of transportation. Future rounds of the program will fund aviation, rail, and marine projects, and previous rounds included bicycle/pedestrian and transit projects. These infrastructure projects ensure Oregon’s transportation system is strong, diverse, and efficient. For the $477 million awarded through Connect Oregon I through VI (including CORA and the
Dedicated Projects there have been:
- 603 project applications received
- 285 projects funded
- $1.003 billion in grants and loans requested
The passage of HB 2017 in 2017 and HB 2592 made significant changes to the Connect Oregon program:
- Eligible modes
- Dedicated projects must be funded
prior to a competitive program:
- Treasure Valley Reload Center ($26 million).
- Rail expansion at the Port of Morrow ($6.55 million).
- Rail siding extension for Amtrak Cascade line ($2.6 million).
- Mid-Willamette Valley Intermodal Facility ($25 million).
- Oregon International Port of Coos Bay Rail Line Repairs and Bridge Replacement project ($5 million).
Future Competitive Rounds
The Department is preparing to launch a competitive application cycle for this fall. Approximately $46 million will be available for investment in eligible aviation, marine and rail transportation projects. (As noted above, transit and pedestrian/bicycle projects had been previously eligible, but have been shifted to other grant programs.) The CO team expects to begin accepting applications in September or October, with selection to occur in spring 2022. ODOT will update stakeholders and notify the media with the timelines as soon as they are set.
In February 2020, the OTC adopted new
rules for the Connect Oregon program which implemented the statutory changes from HB 2017 and HB 2592. Two separate Rules Advisory Committees met and worked to drafted rules based upon the program area; one for the
air, marine and rail freight transportation, and another for Multimodal Statewide Investments Management (bicycle and pedestrian movement).
Connect Oregon projects are eligible for grants that cover up to 70 percent of project costs. A minimum 30 percent cash match is required from the recipient for all grant funded projects (except Class I Railroads which now have a 50 percent match). Projects eligible for funding from highway fund revenues that come primarily from state fuel taxes, vehicle title and registration fees, and heavy truck fees (section 3a, Article IX of the Oregon Constitution, the Highway Trust Fund), are not eligible for Connect Oregon funding.
If a highway or public road element is essential to the complete functioning of the proposed project, applicants are encouraged to work with their ODOT region, city, or county to identify the necessary funding sources.