Most of you know I've been assigned to serve on the newly created Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization. The committee has been assigned the task of building a comprehensive transportation package to be voted on during the 2017 Legislative Session.
In order to create the best package for ALL of Oregon, the committee has scheduled a series of public meetings and tours throughout Oregon. Currently, we have visited the East Metro area and Eastern Oregon, Ontario and Hermiston. The next committee hearing will be Wednesday July 20, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.
Portland: While at the Portland Community College campus near Powell Blvd, the committee heard several concerns relating to the congestion on the east side. I-205 has so many choke-points that it truly hinders the economy. One of the projects that is in the hopper is the Abernathy Bridge that crosses the Willamette River just before Oregon City. The four-lane north-south bridge is being configured to expand to three lanes each direction. Highway 212, the once sleepy rural highway, near the Fred Meyer Distribution Center has become a major commuter route with two lanes traveling east and west. Fred Meyer and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) have teamed up to improve and relieve the congestion.
Ontario: The tour was interesting. The community has been hard at work developing a plan for building an intermodal hub. The hub would include about 200 acres involving a center where both the Union Pacific and Train-X receive produce and other commodities from the connecting five counties, including the Idaho side. This would be more cost effective to transport hay, onions, potatoes, etc. across the counties.
I am exploring the possibility of a similar project on the west side of the Cascades, possibly in the Albany area. This would reduce truck traffic, move freight, and create jobs. I will keep you advised as I learn more throughout the remaining tours.
|The Joint Committee on Transportation and Modernization meeting with local folks in Eastern Oregon|