Oregon lawmakers want to borrow $1 billion to replace the Interstate 5 bridge. This would be the same as what Washington promised to do last year.
State lawmakers want to sell bonds backed by Oregon’s general fund and the Oregon Department of Transportation’s highway user tax program.
The details were sent to the state’s Joint Transportation Committee members on Wednesday, 22 March 2023, in a policy draft. Lawmakers say that some document parts are still not set in stone.
Rep. Susan McLain, a Democrat from Hillsboro, called the plan to borrow money a “straightforward package.” The bond from the general fund would be worth about $300 million, and the money from ODOT would be worth about $700 million.
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The plan comes as the project to replace the bridge gets close to significant milestones. Planners in charge of the project said they needed money from both states to compete for large federal grants.
“We’re making sure the federal government knows the state of Washington and the state of Oregon are working diligently to replace a very important West Coast bridge,” McLain said Thursday, 23 March, 2023.
Oregon’s transportation committee has not yet devised an official plan for the money. McLain says they don’t plan to make an authorized plan public until April. Then it would go to the Senate and House floors before it could be put on the state’s budget for the next two years.
The draft also says the project “may not cost more than $6.3 billion.” Planners say that inflation, problems with the supply chain, and a lack of workers are to blame for the recent rise in the project’s cost.’
A tweet related to this news has been shared by OregonDOT, which is given below-
Two major bridge improvement projects will affect traffic in south #Ashland this spring and summer – with work on the East Main Street Bridge over I-5 beginning April 10.
Read about scheduled closures in our latest release: https://t.co/GEy1tfLak3 #SWOregon pic.twitter.com/tTp1Ik0Um7
— OregonDOT (@OregonDOT) March 24, 2023
Greg Johnson, who is in charge of the team replacing the bridge, said in December that he thought the project would cost between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. He told a spokesperson Thursday that his team knows Oregon has mentioned a spending limit.
When asked about a possible spending limit, McLain said, “It’s something we can discuss.”
The fact that the plan would take $700 million from a source of money that ODOT usually uses worried Lee Beyer, who is in charge of transportation in Oregon. He said the agency would have trouble getting money in the future because more and more electric cars will cut into the state’s capital from the gas tax.
Source- Oregon Public Broadcasting Department