Legislation could provide $2.8 billion to repair Oregon roads, bridges

Hundreds of new construction jobs could be in the near future for Oregon, thanks to a proposed $2.8 billion transportation package.

If the legislature and governor approve the package, it could be the largest transportation package ever instituted by the state.

According to the Oregon transportation department, there are approximately 500 cracked and failing highway bridges in the state, and 78 state bridges and 333 local bridges have weight limits. By 2010, almost 900 of the state’s 2,690 bridges will have weight limits posted. If nothing is done to fix the problem, $122 billion in business revenue and 88,000 jobs could be lost over the next 25 years.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski is supportive of the package. He says the repair and construction projects would add jobs to Oregon’s employment ranks and boost the state’s economy.

Negotiators for lawmakers, the governor and lobbyists agreed to a proposal that would increase car registration fees $24 every two years, increase title fees by $20 and add a $10 charge to take a driver’s test. Combined, the fees would raise about $120 million, which would be used to borrow up to $2 billion to fix the state’s bridges and highways.

“These are relatively small increases,” Oregon Rep. Alan Brown said. “But when you put them all together, it’s a lot of money. If we get the job done, it will probably be the largest transportation package ever passed by the Oregon Legislature.”