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 FarrSunday, July 28th, 2013
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.