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Oregon Transportation Commission Approves $124M in COVID-19 Relief Funding

SALEM, OR — The Oregon Transportation Commission approves spending $124 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding provided by Congress at the end of 2020 for Oregon roads. The federal money can be used for both construction projects and operations and maintenance activities, such as plowing snow, patching potholes, and carrying out other activities, by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and local governments to keep roads safe and open to traffic.

ODOT estimates that Oregon will see its State Highway Fund revenue fall by about $225 million in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and resulting recession, so the federal funding will make up about half the lost revenue.

“We’re grateful that Congress recognized the pandemic’s impact to transportation agencies across the country and took action,” said Robert Van Brocklin, Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. “This funding will help keep Oregonians safe by reducing cuts to critical road maintenance.”

Funds Set Aside for Local Governments
The commission set aside $56 million for local governments — 45 percent of the funding — based on the city and county share of the State Highway Fund. Some local governments have made layoffs or service reductions in their road programs, and others are cutting back on projects due to lost highway fund revenue. Cities and counties will receive funding directly for road operations and maintenance costs, and metropolitan planning organizations will distribute funding within urban areas.
How ODOT Will Use The Funds
The commission approved providing ODOT $68 million divided between two programs:
  • $36 million for operations and maintenance on state highways
  • $32 million to make the state highway system accessible for Oregonians with disabilities

The relief legislation also includes $225 million for public transit in Oregon, on top of funding provided under the CARES Act earlier in 2020; in total, Oregon has received more than half a billion dollars in federal public transportation relief funding to help cover lost revenue and higher costs to provide bus and train service. Most funding from the December 2020 relief package will go directly to the large urban transit providers, and ODOT will receive $2.8 million to distribute to rural transit service.

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