Transportation — With Highway Trust Fund running low, other Oregon projects face cuts

Both state and local governments could lose federal transportation and transit funding amounting up to $46.8 billion if Congress doesn’t increase funding for the Highway Trust Fund. But the largest area transportation project, the Newberg-Dundee bypass, shouldn’t be effected.

“The project is fully funded and funded primarily though Jobs and Transportation Act dollars,” said Lou Torres, Oregon Department of Transportation District 2 spokesman.

The act was passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 with the intent to increase the State Highway Fund. The JTA increased the fuel tax by 6 cents and directed ODOT to spend $960 million on 37 state highway projects and 14 projects in eastern Oregon. $192 million of the JTA funding went to Phase 1 of the bypass.

It’s because of this, that Torres said “whatever is going to happen with the federal trust fund is not going to effect this project.”

Although other Oregon projects including the widening of U.S. 26 at 185th Avenue, safety improvements on Southeast Powell Boulevard and Southeast Division Street and the addition of a second exit lane on northbound Interstate 5 at Lower Boones Ferry Road, may not be safe. A recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts found Oregon is one of the most dependent states on federal transportation funding, making up between 35 and 40 percent of the state’s budget. Without additional action by Congress, ODOT could lose at least $150 million annually from its budget.

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