Oregon Legislature in 2003 passed the Oregon Transportation Improvement Act of 2003, securing funding for the new Interstate 5 bridge over the Willamette River in Lane County. by Pat Farr

Sunday, July 28th, 2013


Whilamut Passage Bridge in Lane County

On Saturday July 26 the Register Guard published an article, “Right on track,” about a ceremony that celebrated the upcoming opening of the Whilamut Passage Interstate 5 bridge over the Willamette River in Lane County. What the article and the ceremony failed to detail was the yeoman’s work done by the 2003 Oregon Legislature in securing the method and means to pay for the bridge.

After the 2003 Legislature initialized funding for a massive upgrade of Oregon’s failing bridges by passing House Bill 2041, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) signed a contract with Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners (Oregon BDP), the private-sector firm selected to manage the $1.4 billion state bridge replacement program.  The selection of this particular contractor was based in part on their responses to the criteria listed below.

The Department included in their letter to the Emergency Board the specific actions proposed by Oregon BDP to meet the requirements set by the Legislature in their report. The Bill was written after being worked  by Representative Alan Brown’s (R-Newport) House Interim Committee on Transportation.  Because it was an increase in taxation, it was referred to the House Revenue Committee, chaired by Representative Lane Shetterly (R-Dallas).  House Revenue consisted of Chair Shetterly, Republicans Pat Farr, Vicki Berger, Wayne Scott and Max Williams, and Democrats Joanne Verger, Phil Barnhart, Mark Hass and Elaine Hopson. All Revenue Bills in the Oregon Legislature must pass through the House Revenue Committee.

On June 18 2003, while sitting on the House Revenue Committee I voted to send House Bill 2041 to the floor of the House with a do-pass recommendation. Five days later on June 25 the bill passed the House having received the required three-fifths Constitutional majority.  On July 23, House Bill 2041 came back to the House having taken on small amendments in the Oregon Senate and received final passage. 

Based upon the passage of the bill in the House of Representatives and subsequent passage in the Senate and signature by the Governor, The 2003 Legislature directed the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to contract with the private sector in managing the bridge repair and replacement program and the overall implementation of House Bill 2041 (2003), otherwise known as the Oregon Transportation Investment Act of 2003.

We required the following:

1.  Ease of traffic movement–contracting strategies that keep traffic moving will minimize effects on other industries and the public;

2.  Expedient delivery–quick project delivery will allow freedom of freight movement and ensures that products can be delivered throughout the state; and,

3.  Involvement of Oregon construction firms and employees–the use of Oregon firms and employees, emerging small businesses and minorities will result in economic stimulus that will benefit the state overall.

(many thanks are due to Scott Williams and Hamilton construction for meeting and exceeding these mandates)

This set the wheels in motion for a $1.4 billion dollar edict to replace or repair of hundreds of bridges in Oregon, including the due-to-fail Interstate 5 bridge over the Willamette River . On July 26 2013 I attended the ceremony for the opening of the Whilamut Passage  Interstate 5 bridge over the Willamette River.

I watched from the audience as elected officials who later joined the 2003 Legislature in its efforts toward getting the Whilamut Passage bridge built accepted applause.

It’s time to break camp in the Willamette Greenway by Pat Farr

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

When I visited the Occupy Eugene camp located between 6th and 7th Avenues and Washington and Jefferson Streets in Eugene yesterday a reporter asked me, “You have been to the listening sessions, visited the camp and spent a lot of time on this.  Why?”

I didn’t have to think twice before I answered.  I will be making an important decision regarding the encampment and how the City of Eugene will use general fund dollars that are scarce.  Limited dollars that are in demand for a wide variety of services from police and fire to support of existing local social service agencies as well as maintenance of the city’s capital assets such as roads, buildings, traffic signals, bike paths, etc and paying the wages and benefits of the City staff.

This decision does not come lightly.  I told the reporter that in order to make an informed decision I needed to personally visit the site and meet one on one and in groups with the occupants as well as the Police Chief, social service providers and the general observing public.  This took time and effort.  I visited Occupy Portland, visited the sites in Eugene, at the downtown park blocks, Alton Baker Park and its current location.  I met in a listening circle and in my office with occupiers.  I spoke with groups and individuals at length in the camps.  I spoke with leaders of local service agencies.  And I observed.  For many hours.

From the beginning I had concerns.  From the beginning I spoke of the committee I chaired on homelessness and youth and the services it leveraged.  From the beginning I believed and stated that concentrating people, for whatever cause, in an area that is not suitable for extended overnight stay would never work.

Yesterday during my visit to the camp I specifically wanted to ascertain that large quantities of waste water were not entering our rivers and streams unprocessed.  That concern was alleviated in that the waste water is captured in the kitchen area and hauled away by a sanitary service provider.  It did not alleviate my concern that the food processing equipment and the utensils and plates used for serving the food were able to be maintained in a consistently sanitary manner.  The camp kitchen is using, by their service staff’s estimate given to me yesterday, around 125 gallons every two days.  That’s not nearly enough clean or soapy or chlorinated or hot water  to guarantee sanitary service to standard that could guarantee no contamination or food poisoning.

My concerns that I stated in October have not been satisfied.  I must repeat my message to the people occupying the park land between 6th and 7th Avenues and Washington and Jefferson Streets in Eugene:


My message to the campers:  You must recognize that you have gone beyond the bounds of tolerance. You cannot control the messages that are being given both in your name and about your movement.  You are endangering the people of Eugene.  It is time to break camp and find other ways to make your protests that don’t harm people or our city.

Pat Farr


Ward 6



Eugene Riverfront Research Park Expansion

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

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