Oregon transportation package headed to governor

| 8/12/2005

The Oregon Legislature has OK’d a bid to upgrade ports, railways and airports in the state with $100 million in lottery-backed bonds. The bill, SB71, now moves to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s desk for his signature.

Dubbed “Connect Oregon,” the plan pushed by the governor is needed to strengthen the state’s ties to national and international markets, The Associated Press reported.

The governor said the money from lottery-backed bonds is the next step in creating a business climate in the state that supports moving people, goods and commerce.

“Rail, air and marine are not competitors with our highway system; they are interconnected with our roads, bridges and highways,” Kulongoski said in a recent statement. “Connect Oregon is an important investment we can make to strengthen our ability to compete in a global market, create and retain jobs in Oregon, and grow our state’s economy.”

The plan is seen as a follow up to a $2.5 billion bonding program approved by the Oregon Legislature two years ago for road and bridge upgrades. The program borrows against future revenue to fund public and private projects across the state.

The money could not go for any project that could be paid for by highway funds, The AP reported.

Supporters said the governor’s multimodal transportation plan is important for business development in the state. Opponents have criticized the amount is too small.

Kulongoski acknowledged the sum is small, but he maintains it is only the beginning.