Pamplin Media Group - Major critical infrastructure projects to be funded by feds

More than $10 million approved by the U.S. House, Senate for community projects around Oregon

More than $10 million in federal funding is likely to go toward a number of major infrastructure projects in Oregon, including critical infrastructure funding for the Port of Portland and other disaster mitigation projects around the state.

The Community Project Funding was passed by the U.S. House on March 9, and by the U.S. Senate March 10 as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for 2022 government funding, which was signed by President Joe Biden on March 15. Oregon leaders advocated for projects that increase access to behavioral health care, support small businesses, strengthen workforce training, and more.

Each member of Congress can submit up to 10 community project funding requests for consideration. Rep. Earl Blumenauer joined Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici in advocating for $2.67 million in funding for the Multnomah County Behavioral Health Resource Center, among other projects.

Blumenauer also helped secure funding for Oregon projects including $2 million for the Willamette shore line rail and trestle repair project; $2 million toward phase II development of the Gradin community sports park in Gresham; $850,000 toward the Cascade AIDS Project for behavioral health services; and more including Portland violence prevention outreach, Friends of the Children mentoring services, PCC curriculum development, OHSU Northwest Native American Center of Excellence health workforce initiative, and Willamette River environmental dredging.

Additional projects Bonamici supported in this bill include $2.1 million for the Virginia Garcia Newberg Clinic Expansion; $1.75 million for the Japan Institute Building Renovation Projects at the Portland Japanese Garden; $1 million to WorkSystems, Inc. to expand construction trades; $1 million to the city of Hillsboro for construction of a water supply system; $760,000 to the Columbia River Inter Tribal Fish Commission. Furthermore, these include a Beaverton nonprofit incubator project, a Banks fire department project, a Columbia County small business resource center, and an Astoria pre-disaster landslide storm drainage project.

"This legislation is a major win for our communities, and I am delighted that it contains funding for 10 projects in Northwest Oregon I championed to increase access to critical services and promote equity," Bonamici said. "These projects will make our communities stronger and create new opportunities for families and workers."

About $3.75 million is slated for the Port of Portland's resilient runway engineering design project.

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According to a National Institute of Building Sciences cost-benefit analysis started in 2019, a resilient runway at the airport will help Oregon avoid up to $7.2 billion in losses. The institute has studied disaster mitigation since 2005, finding that every $1 spent on advance mitigation saves $4. An additional study from the institute found that every $1 invested in mitigation efforts saves up to $13 when natural disasters strike, on average nationally.

Pamplin Media Group - Major critical infrastructure projects to be funded by feds

"Designing and building disaster-resilient infrastructure before an emergency happens is the most cost-effective investment we can make," Blumenauer said. "As someone who spends way too much time at the Portland Airport, I am excited for this project and proud that the Port of Portland is proactively planning for our region's future."

With the $3.75 million, the port plans to have the engineering and construction drawings completed for the seismic mitigation, and to lay the groundwork for securing full construction funding. These preliminary efforts are intended to provide necessary technical information for the seismically resilient runway, such as advanced geotechnical analysis for seismic stabilization, according to Blumenauer's office.

Port of Portland Executive Director Curtis Robinhold said the port appreciates the support from Blumenauer, and from Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

"The Port of Portland is deeply committed to supporting state and community needs during a crisis. Following an earthquake of significant magnitude, the ground beneath the current runways at PDX is likely to settle and spread, cracking and breaking the runway pavement surface and rendering it unusable for aircraft," Robinhold said. "A resilient runway at PDX — one that can withstand the effects of liquefaction — could be an essential lifeline for many Oregonians. This federal funding, combined with an additional $4 million in state funding will allow us to get to near-final design of a seismically resilient runway at PDX."

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Other projects

The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is slated to receive $760,000 toward the Coastal Marine Observation and Prediction program. Aja K. DeCoteau, executive director of the commission, said the organization assumed stewardship of the program in 2020.

"(The program is) a perfect complement to our efforts to combine cutting edge scientific research with traditional ecological knowledge in the estuary and ocean environments. Our co-management ethos dictates that wherever the salmon go, we go with them," DeCoteau said."We appreciate the hard work and dedication of Sens. Merkley and Wyden and Rep. Bonamici to expand the important work of CMOP and further the understanding of the linkage between the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, both in terms of how it impacts the region's salmon runs and how it helps us quantify the effects of climate change on this important and delicate ecosystem."

In Gresham, Gradin Sports Park will add multiple sports fields as well as a restroom, concessions and storage building, according to Gresham city officials, which is expected to have an economic impact as a tournament attraction.

In Newberg, the Virginia Garcia clinic could double its ability to provide care with the $2 million for expanding operations, Pamplin Media Group previously reported.

In Hillsboro and other west side suburbs, the Willamette Water Supply Program is much anticipated. A water treatment plant that will be able to handle 120 million gallons of water per day is planned for Sherwood, pumping river water from Wilsonville to reach residents in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tualatin.

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