July 15, 2008

Wyden, Smith Announce $143 million for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Projects for Oregon

Washington, D.C. -- Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith announced today that a transportation, housing and urban development appropriations bill headed for the Senate floor contains $143 million for mass transit needs in the Portland metropolitan area as well as projects in Pendleton, Gold Beach and Vernonia.

"You only have to look at the price of a gallon of gas to know how important transportation issues are to Oregonians today and into the future," Wyden said. "These projects, plus help for flood-ravaged Vernonia and the economies of eastern and southwestern Oregon, means that the United States Senate is ready to step up and meet its commitments to both urban and rural parts of our state."

"Oregon's economic future will greatly benefit from investment in an efficient and modern transportation infrastructure," said Smith. "Whether it's expanding access to public transportation in Portland and Springfield, improving our ports in Gold Beach, or helping flood victims in Vernonia, these funds will strengthen every corner of our state."

In addition to Senate approval, the bill also needs to pass the House and be signed by the President.

The 2009 appropriations bill contains $81.6 million for the South Corridor I-205/ Portland Mall Light Rail Project that will add 8.3 miles to the current system, connecting downtown Portland with Clackamas Regional Center and points in-between, including new stations and additional park-and-ride spaces. The project includes real property acquisition, final design, civil construction and track work, signals, communications, traction electrification, central control, fare collection and low-floor light rail vehicles. It is scheduled to open for in September 2009.

An additional $50 million is included for final engineering and construction of the Portland Streetcar Loop Project, which is a 3.35 mile extension of Portland Streetcar. The money will be used to extend service to the eastside of Portland connecting to the Lloyd District, the Central Eastside and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The system currently runs from Northwest Portland through downtown to RiverPlace and the South Waterfront.

Columbia River Crossing would receive $3 million for preliminary planning and design of a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver.

Additional transportation money in the tri-county area would go to the:

  • Hillsboro Intermodal Transit Facility ($3 million) for a 500-600 space parking structure for students, faculty, patients and staff of the Tuality Hospital/Pacific University/Virginia Garcia Clinic Health/Education campus.
  • Interstate 5 to 99W Connector in south Washington County ($3 million) for design, environmental impact statement preparation and right-of-way acquisition. The project calls for a new limited-access expressway.

Additional projects contained in the bill include:

  • Vernonia substation, $500,000 to construct a distribution substation to restore electrical service to the residents of Vernonia, who were hit by massive flooding last winter.
  • Affordable Housing for Veterans, $600,000 for The Tamarack, the first affordable housing project in the North Macadam Urban Renewal (South Waterfront). It is a 210-unit project of low-income housing with street level commercial space.
  • Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon, $750,000 for the reconstruction and construction needs of both facilities.
  • Port of Gold Beach, $200,000 to begin rebuilding a dock that provides the foundation for water-dependent and water-related commercial and retail activities at the port.
  • Pioneer Parkway EmX Bus, $296,000 for rapid transit in Springfield.
  • Bend Venture Catalyst, $245,000 to identify, assist, and grow existing small technology-based firms.