The Oregon Department of Transportation has received 103 applications for funds from the ConnectOregon program, Governor Kulongoski’s $100 million lottery bond-backed initiative passed by the 2005 Legislature. Applicants requested a total of $237 million for a variety of projects including air freight, business aviation, passenger air, marine, rail freight, bus and/or rail transit, and multiple mode projects.
‘I’m pleased the applications represent every corner of the state and all the different modes of transportation,’ said Governor Ted Kulongoski. ‘It’s clear there’s a need to invest in rail, air, marine and transit throughout the state so that we can improve the flow of commerce, people and goods — which will strengthen our communities and our economy.’
ODOT Director Matt Garrett echoed Gov. Kulongoski’s sentiments. ‘I’m delighted that we have such a wide variety of projects,’ he said. ‘There are projects from both the public and private sectors, plus several projects that could result in successful public-private partnering. Also, many applicants are providing well over the required 20 percent match amount, and I think that indicates their confidence and enthusiasm for making these strategic investments in Oregon.’
Thirteen applications were received for southwest Oregon. Local applications include a $4.2 million request from Medford Urban Renewal and Rogue Valley Transit District for a Medford Intermodal Transit Center and a $4.7 million request from the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport for a Multi-Modal Airport Improvement Project.
Over the next few weeks, the applications will be screened for completeness and technical feasibility. They will then be reviewed by four advisory committees (air, rail, freight and public transit) and the Area Commissions on Transportation to ensure a wide and comprehensive discussion of which projects to recommend to the Oregon Transportation Commission.
Applications will be evaluated on specific considerations as defined in thelegislation (SB71):
- Whether the project reduces transportation costs for Oregon businesses;
- Whether it benefits or connects two or more modes;
- Whether it is a critical link in a statewide or regional transportation system;
- How much of the cost can be borne by applicants;
- Whether the project creates construction and permanent jobs in the state; and
- Whether the project is ready for construction.
Projects eligible for funding from the Oregon State Highway Fund, e.g. use fuel taxes and motor vehicle taxes, are not eligible for ConnectOregon funding.
‘It will be difficult to select the best projects given so many qualified and beneficial applications,’ said Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Stuart Foster. ‘We’ll look forward to gathering input from around the state.’
The OTC is scheduled to make its final project selection this summer. Status updates and a table showing the breakdown of project requests can be found on the ODOT web site, www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/CO/index.shtml.