Eastern Oregon cities hoping for dollars from transportation package – Local News

Hermiston and Pendleton have plans for whatever new transportation revenue comes their way.

Legislators may be talking about relieving Portland traffic jams as they design an $8.2 billion transportation funding package, but Eastern Oregon cities are looking forward to what they anticipate will be some extra cash for their communities too.

“We’re curious how it will all fall out,” said Bob Patterson, Pendleton’s public works director.

The plan that is shaping up would raise $8.2 billion over 10 years via a combination of gas taxes, fee increases and other revenue streams. The money would be used for transportation infrastructure projects across the state ranging from bridge repairs to widening highways.

Patterson said Pendleton currently gets $32,000 for every penny of the gas tax, and the package lawmakers are considering would raise the gas tax by 14 cents. If the current gas tax formula holds — 20 percent to cities, 30 percent to counties and 50 percent to the state — Pendleton could get a helpful boost in funds for repairing and preserving its streets.

“(Street maintenance) adds up to $2.4 million a year we should be spending,” Patterson said. “We’re currently at $800,000. We’re a third of the way there. So anything will help.”

Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan said in the past, funding for transportation projects has fluctuated unpredictably from biennium to biennium depending on the whims of the legislature. The result, he said, is that cities have to go begging for money every two years with no idea of what they might get.

“If we can plan five, six, seven years down the road, we can be a lot more effective,” he said.

Morgan said whatever the final formula ends up being, cities hope it will provide some more stability in funding.

Hermiston’s top priority for whatever funding comes the city’s way is a multi-million dollar project to widen and improve First Place from…

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