Oregon lawmakers will seek community feedback as they plan transportation package – Ashland News

Oregon lawmakers will seek community feedback as they plan a transportation package

By Ben Botkin, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon lawmakers are mapping out a transportation package for the 2025 legislative session to address the state’s long-term needs, from sustainable funding to new projects so Oregonians can travel safely across the state.

As a first step, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation is planning a dozen meetings in communities across Oregon from June through September to get input on improving the state’s transportation system with stable funding to complete major projects and preserve what already exists.

State officials say Oregon is struggling to maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges with available funding. Last December, Gov. Tina Kotek asked state lawmakers to allocate another $19 million to the Oregon Department of Transportation for winter maintenance. Lawmakers provided the one-time funding, but it is not a permanent answer to long-term needs.

During the meetings, committee members will hear from local officials and the public about the challenges they face navigating the state’s roads and highways. Lawmakers will use that feedback to put together a transportation package for the 2025 legislative session that will give the Oregon Department of Transportation a path to complete major highway projects and preserve what is already in place, officials said in a news release.

“We’re talking about clearing snow from highways, patching potholes, keeping our bridges from collapsing and reducing traffic congestion,” Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale and co-chair of the joint committee, said in a statement. “Our transportation systems impact the lives of Oregonians in every corner of our state and they must remain safe and efficient for years to come.”

Gov. Tina Kotek, Senate President Rob Wagner, D-Corvallis, and House Speaker Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, urged the Joint Transportation Committee to identify stable transportation funding. Amid the increase in fuel-efficient and electric-powered vehicles, revenue from transportation fuel taxes has declined, creating a long-term budget challenge for Oregon and other states that need stable funding to build existing roads, highways and bridges maintain and build new ones. infrastructure in growing regions.

“First and foremost, we must ensure stable and predictable funding for the Oregon Department of Transportation so that the agency can provide the essential maintenance and safety services that Oregonians deserve,” Kotek and legislative leaders wrote in a May 6 letter to the leaders of the transportation committee.

Ben Botkin covers justice, health care and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle.

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