Oregon panel OK's $100 million for transportation

| 7/24/2006

The Oregon Transportation Commission has approved nearly $100 million for new projects throughout the state, but it’s not going for roads. The money is earmarked for air, rail, water and public transit.

If re-elected this November, Gov. Ted Kulongoski told the commission he would ask the state’s Legislature to chip in another $100 million for a similar round of transportation work, The Associated Press reported. He said he would target lottery-backed bonds to pay for it.

Kulongoski said in a statement that both amounts would mean “better integration of the many parts of our transportation system, with a smoother flow of commerce and fewer delays.”

The Port of Portland will get an infusion of more than $16 million for three projects. Other projects included are improvements to rail yards in southern and eastern Oregon.

“It’s critical that we tie our ports with the railroads, and the railroads with our highways,” Stuart Foster, the commission’s chairman, told Salem’s Statesman Journal.

The first $100 million initially was approved during the 2005 Legislature. It followed an infusion of $3 billion in bonds, backed by higher licensing fees for highway and bridge work that were approved in the three previous legislative sessions.

The money will be released once contracts for each project are signed, The AP reported. The money could not go for any project that could be paid for by highway funds.