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Oregon Receives a Combined $362M to Address Transportation System Resiliency and Bridges

SALEM, OR — With Oregon's coastal access, mountain ranges, and high desert canyons and ravines, comes the need for many large bridges, tailored to the area they serve. With the recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is evaluating possible projects which qualify for the bridge and resiliency portion of the funding.

ODOT considers many factors during the project development and evaluation process. The agency looks at inspection information, inventory data, local perspectives, and cost-benefit analysis to prioritize projects and identify recommendations for the Oregon Transportation Commission to consider.

“We are grateful for these funds,” said State Bridge Program & Standards Engineer Bert Hartman. “This allows us to address several additional projects our statewide program staff and region crews have already identified as future work items.”

Repainting a portion of the Fremont Bridge is one project on the table. Completed in 1973, the Fremont Bridge spans the Willamette River in Portland, connecting I-405 and I-5. It is a critical route for residents, freight, and local transit, and it is due for a paint job.

“Buying a steel bridge is like buying a house — you have to paint it to preserve it,” Hartman said. Not only is painting a bridge nearly half a mile long a time-consuming task, but it is also costly. If approved, ODOT could begin this multi-phase project using part of the bridge funding.

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The resiliency portion of the allocation funds projects increase the infrastructure’s ability to withstand and recover from events like earthquakes and floods. While bridges are often a focal point, enhancing resiliency extends to other areas of the transportation system.

Replacing a culvert on U.S. 30 near the St. Johns Bridge is one project vying for resiliency funding. This project would replace an aged culvert with a larger one, better suited for the area and significance of the highway as an emergency corridor. Culverts are critical to managing drainage and preventing flooding. They allow water to cross under a roadway, often at natural collection points.

Other projects under consideration for bridge and resiliency funding include a slope stabilization project to reduce rockfall hazards, replacement of a culvert that supports fish passage, and a bridge replacement needed to complete a jurisdictional transfer to a local agency.

While the $362 million — $268 million for bridges and $94 million for system resiliency — is a much needed addition, it does not fix the state’s system preservation funding shortage and it will not cover every need. A portion of these funds also goes to local agencies, helping cities and counties fund bridge projects in their areas. With nearly 2,800 bridges in the state transportation system, the key to maintaining these structures throughout their decades-long lifespan is consistent, dedicated funding to support proactive preservation and rehabilitation work.

Ensuring reliability and resiliency, while addressing community needs, is a critical part of ODOT’s project selection process. Visit ODOT's website to learn more about how the department is working to build and maintain a modern transportation system, along with other priorities, in its strategic action plan.

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