Oregon’s robust transportation system has served the state well, but aging infrastructure and rapid growth have put at risk our ability to remain economically competitive, meet long-range greenhouse gas emission goals, as well as simply get to and from work or school. With smart investments today, we can create the kind of transportation system Oregon deserves – one that will support healthy and livable communities, improve safety and reliability, increase freight mobility and efficiency, and ensures our economy continues to create good paying jobs throughout the state.
Better Roads Better Transit Better Communities
Oregon’s Top Travel Destination
Over 10.3 million visitors travel to the Oregon coast each year, creating over $1.7 billion of economic activity. Yet narrow roads and increased traffic during the summer create significant safety hazards. Coastal communities are also particularly vulnerable to the impact of a Cascadia Subduction Zone event, with 56 bridges expected to collapse, and an additional 42 heavily damaged.
Oregon Metro Region
The metro region serves as the state’s main hub for homegrown products to be exported domestically and abroad. It supports the state’s largest airport and marine port, and hosts critical interstate freight routes. Yet, with a rapidly increasing population, metro area commuters spend an average of 52 hours per year stuck in traffic, a 13 percent increase in just five years. Investments in transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are critical for increasing transportation options and providing needed congestion relief.
The Willamette Valley contains some of the nation’s most fertile farming lands and is home to thousands of small businesses that form the backbone the state’s economy. However, heavy demand has taken its toll, accelerating the deterioration of essential roads and bridges. Worse, in rural some areas, shortages of transit service can isolate communities from major population and employment centers.
A Vital Link
Southern Oregon’s vital interstate and freight rail network has long been essential in moving the region’s manufacturing, agricultural, timber and vinicultural products. But increased congestion is making it difficult for producers to get their goods to market. Medford serves as the region’s hub, but transit funding has remained stagnant. Without further investment, the Medford region will experience a 40 percent increase in travel delays by 2038.
Central Oregon’s transportation infrastructure will play a key role in our seismic resiliency, likely serving as the state’s staging ground for emergency response and economic recovery efforts in the wake of a Cascadia Subduction Zone event. Highway 97 and the Redmond Airport will both serve a critical role, yet without improvements, current infrastructure is not up to the task of supporting this level of response.
Oregon’s Tech Boom
Along with booming tourism and service industries, Central Oregon is home to a fast-growing high-tech business cluster, with companies like Google and Facebook establishing data centers and smaller companies taking advantage of the region’s skilled workforce. But with this kind of growth comes increased traffic, and the region saw a 25 percent increase in California freight in 2014 alone. Increased freight traffic, coupled with a booming population, is straining the corridor’s capacity and safety.
By River, Road or Rail
Home to the bustling Port of Morrow, the tri-cities region is quickly becoming a major economic force in the state. With its strategic location on the Columbia river, this multimodal corridor connects the Willamette Valley to the east. Investments must be made to ensure that the corridor’s river, road and rail transportation system is maintained and resilient to a seismic event.
Getting to Market
The cattle ranchers and farmers of Eastern Oregon rely heavily on a transportation system of road, rail and barge to get their goods to regional and international markets. Extreme weather makes the region’s highways, roads and bridges difficult to maintain without increased investment, and many cities and counties with limited resources are struggling to simply keep their current roads paved.