INFRASTRUCTURE
From Oregon Investment Guide 2024
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TAKES ALL KINDS:

Funds Support a Wide Variety of Infrastructure Improvements Across Oregon

INFRASTRUCTURE
The Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge is a swing span bridge built in 1936 over Coos Bay.
Photo courtesy of Oregon International Port of Coos Bay

by ADAM BRUNS
I

nfrastructure has many forms and meanings. One meaningful shape it’s taking in Oregon is restoring the connections of a community once torn asunder by infrastructure projects of the past.

In March 2024, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s $1.7 billion I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project received a $450 million Reconnecting Neighborhoods and Communities Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that will join with another $38 million grant for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Broadway as a Main Street project in the same Albina community in northeast Portland that was disconnected from itself and from the Willamette River by the construction of I-5 in the 1960s. The historically Black neighborhood is an integral part of the city’s cultural and industrial history.

In 2017, historical inequities in the district were paralleled by historic traffic congestion in what ODOT itself calls “one of the worst bottlenecks in the country” where I-5, I-84 and I-405 converge in the Rose Quarter area. The new project addresses that congestion with auxiliary lanes while also funding the core part of the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project’s highway cover “to support community reconnection, new community space and future development opportunities for the Albina community,” ODOT stated. It’s the largest of the 132 projects in the USDOT program, and also includes a pedestrian/bicycle-only bridge. 

“It goes deeper than the brick and mortar we’re talking about — it’s the love for our community, the vision,” said James Posey, a member of the Historic Albina Advisory Board that advises the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, during a May 2024 visit from U.S. Department of Transportation Acting Undersecretary for Transportation Policy Christopher Coes, and Director of the Departmental Office of Civil Rights Irene Marion. “This vision is more than a vision. It’s a dream come true.”

Other dreams take other forms, including the connectivity that comes with expanded broadband. That’s the charge of the Oregon Broadband Office, established in 2018 to close the digital divide.

The state will be helped by federal funds in this case too: In September 2023, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of $156.7 million for high-speed internet projects in Oregon under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund, which the state estimates will connect approximately 17,195 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.

“This award, which is part of President Biden’s Investing in America effort, will help rural and low-income communities across Oregon develop high-quality modern broadband infrastructure and expand access to telehealth, job opportunities, education and so much more,” said Oregon Governor Tina Kotek.

On that same day in September, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it had awarded 28 grants totaling more than $74 million to 28 tribal entities as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, including a $500,000 grant to The Klamath Tribes in Oregon to fund environmental technical studies and compliance documents, as well as network design and engineering, to support the future deployment of a fixed wireless backhaul and last mile fiberoptic network.

Sheppards Dell BridgeOregon’s infrastructure of natural beauty includes places such as Shepperd’s Dell State Natural Area near Portland.
Photo of Shepperd’s Dell Bridge by Charlotte Davidson courtesy of ODOT

The Oregon Broadband Office in April announced the awarding of $1.5 million in Broadband Technical Assistance Program (BTAP) grants to 11 projects, including $147,000 to Tillamook Lightwave IGA; more than $149,000 to Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation; nearly $263,000 to Wheeler County to serve its own territory as well as all of Sherman County and part of Grant County; and $300,000 to Inland Development Corporation for work focused on unserved and underserved locations in Union and Baker counties.

“This is a great way to kick off broadband infrastructure efforts in Oregon and indicates the high demand for broadband access throughout the state,” said Nick Batz, director of the Oregon Broadband Office. “For this $1.5 million program, we received 27 applications with a request of more than $4.47 million. Our goal for Oregon is for all Oregonians to have access to broadband by the end of this decade and this funding is a great start.”

Expanded electrical infrastructure helps too. A rural development investment of more than $89 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used by Umatilla Electric Cooperative Inc. to connect 645 consumers and build and improve 93 miles of line in Morroe, Umatilla and Union counties. 

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

     





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