Oregon can begin planning now for an influx of federal transportation funds that will bring the state $3.4 billion for highway projects and $268 million for bridge repair and replacement, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, said Friday.

DeFazio spoke to reporters in a video conference about results Oregon will get from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill President Joe Biden is expected to sign Monday.

“The overall bill is the largest single investment in transportation infrastructure since the construction of the national highway program through the Eisenhower era and a few decades after that,” he said

Douglas and other rural counties will receive funding to repair or replace crumbling bridges, as well as to improve transit, DeFazio said.

About one third of Douglas County’s 300 bridges are structurally deficient, and half are past their average 50-year lifespan.

“This bill, both in the bridge program and in a dedicated rural program, will send money down to the local level to counties to deal with rural bridge and highway issues. That’s a new element in this bill,” he said.

“It’s not as ambitious or as big as in the bill I proposed, but it is new,” he said.

He also said the bill adds new provisions for investments in transit projects in small cities and rural areas.

“I think there’ll be a lot of benefit in that for Douglas County and other counties,” he said.

Rural residents will also benefit from investment in rural access to broadband internet, DeFazio said.

“It’s particularly critical for smaller communities and others in terms of being able to recruit business or grow. For their citizens and for small businesses and people who work independently that’s absolutely critical,” he said.

The transportation bill won some bipartisan support when it passed Congress Nov. 5, with 13 Republicans voting for it and six Democrats against. It had passed the Senate in August with substantial bipartisan support.

The bill partly pays for itself and does not increase the federal gas tax, which DeFazio said hasn’t been raised since 1993. A significant chunk of the funding comes through a combination of return on investment and redirecting monies for pandemic relief and unemployment benefits that went unclaimed.

DeFazio was frank about the fact that this bill wasn’t the one he put forward, and that it doesn’t do everything he asked for. Still, he said, it will bring needed investments in transportation and carbon reduction.

DeFazio said the bill includes $52 million over five years for electric vehicle charging stations across the state and $7.5 billion to create 500,000 charging stations across the country.

That’s needed to reduce “range anxiety” for electric vehicle owners to ensure they can charge their cars when they need to on longer trips, he said.

“The country’s going electric and we’ve got to accommodate that,” he said

DeFazio said he hopes to get some of the transportation and carbon reduction provisions that were left out of the bill into the Build Back Better bill, including $10 billion for transit and affordable housing and $4 billion in incentives for communities that follow through on greenhouse gas reduction plans.

Build Back Better includes many social spending programs and a price tag nearly double that of the transportation bill.

DeFazio said he is hopeful it will pass in the House, perhaps as early as next week. But it could run into serious difficulty in the Senate, hampered by “obsolete, arcane rules” like the filibuster, he said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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(12) comments

cipherself

Thank you, Congressman DeFazio, for your resolve and commitment. Momos is correct. Republican shill Skarlatos has no interest in the welfare of Oregonians, even in Douglas County. He seeks fame, fortune and maybe another shot at Dancing with the Stars.

CitizenJoe

Just as the morning sunrise brings warmth and light to the world, this bill--this law!--will bring literal warmth and light, along with concrete, steel, optical fiber, reliable electricity, and more, to all Americans.

Thank you, Rep. Peter DeFazio! Thank you, Senators Wyden and Merkley!

Just as the crowing rooster is not responsible for the rising sun, our county commissioners are not responsible for the good things that our county will see; nevertheless, they sent out a press release yesterday, lauding themselves in particular for the SRS payments (as if DeFazio, Wyden, and Merkley didn't work for those funds!

Meanwhile, all the Republicans (like Cliff Bentz, OR-2) who voted against this will be conducting groundbreaking ceremonies and ribbon-cuttings as if they were responsible for the benefits, rather than opposing the legislation.

Clock*-a-doodle-do.

(*Ha: my original spelling blocked me, and earned a "Your comment cannot be accepted due to the presence of profanity. Please remove any objectionable content from your comment and try again." So, OK. I got clockblocked.

CitizenJoe

A very few Republicans are trying to be rational. Not many, and, apparently, not here.

https://accountability.gop/cowardice/

https://www.naco.org

PegoMan

Wow! Trump is having fun living rent free in so many leftists head! Ten months and they still use him to distract the voting public from the rights that democrats are rapidly removing from the constitution. I’d get a good laugh if it wasn’t so sad and serious!

CitizenJoe

The only mentions of tRump here are: your comment, and the quote from a tRump scam.

smedleyb

no mention of Trump in this thread and what con

smedleyb

constitutional changes are being made?

CitizenJoe

Peter Defazio is right. This bill is not all that we want or need, and it's not all that we asked for, but it was the best we could do when it's necessary to get a few Republicans* to sign on. As Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, DeFazio will get more for our country, our state, and our county. If you want more and better infrastructure, job creation, and better lives and health right here at home, vote for DeFazio. A side benefit is that you'll get to see Skarlatos on Dancing with the Stars a bit more. If you're into that.

* a tip of the hat to the very few courageous Republicans who did support this bipartisan bill. They have endured death threats against themselves and their families, suffered the real probability of primary challenges, but also the honor of being condemned by crazies like Marjorie Taylor Greene. I mean: really; just google some of the threats against those Republicans.

Huge bbfan

Well if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with BS.

CitizenJoe

Huge bbfan: may I suggest you get in on the ground floor of this grift? I'll include a link in the next comment down, so that you can part with your money.

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CitizenJoe

twitter link:

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Momos

Wait. I thought Defazio hasn't done anything for Oregonians, according to Skarlotos and his fan club. Defazio chairs the House Transportation Committee, and helped bring $3.4 billion to Oregon for transportation upgrades. That's Oregon jobs. With Skarlotos, we would get a Ted Cruz wannabe. The choice could not be more clear.

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