Oregon governor signs into law large transportation bill
July 20, 2021
An omnibus transportation package signed into law in Oregon includes benefits for major road projects covered in a 2017 transportation funding bill.
Four years ago, Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a 10-year, $5.3 billion transportation bill to benefit major highway expansion and improvements to mass transit via taxes and fees, including tolls.
A 4-cent increase in the state’s 30-cent fuel tax rate took effect Jan. 1, 2018. Additionally, 2-cent increases were included to follow every two years through 2024. At that time, the gas tax rate will reach 40 cents.
For professional drivers, proportionate increases were applied to the weight-mile tax, trip permits, and variance permits.
Fuel-efficient vehicles also have higher fees to help compensate for generating less fuel-tax revenue.
Funding for major projects
Gov. Brown has signed into law a 77-page bill that includes state flexibility in funding major projects outlined in the 4-year-old law.
Major transportation initiatives that will benefit from additional funding in HB3055 include plans to replace and seismically retrofit the Boone Bridge on Interstate 5 in Wilsonville, the expansion of I-5 near the Rose Quarter, and improvements along a seven-mile stretch of I-205 between Stafford Road and state Route 213.
The projects will receive $30 million annually through HB3055.
The 4-year-old law, “Keep Oregon Moving,” also authorizes the Oregon Department of Transportation to charge tolls on I-205 in the Portland area.
HB3055 permits the state to continue working on a toll program. Toll collection would be limited. Specifically, the state DOT could only collects tolls to cover costs to add lanes along I-205.
Oregon’s state treasurer also is authorized to issue tollway project revenue bonds to finance tollway projects.
Additionally, the state’s short-term borrowing authority is increased from $100 million to $600 million. The maximum maturity of short-term obligations also is extended from three to five years.
Truck rule changes
A separate provision in the bill covers use of traction tires or chains.
Failure to adhere to the rule could result in a fine of $880 – up from about $160.
Also included in HB3055 is an amendment to provisions related to motor carrier mandatory training for drivers domiciled in Oregon, and that receive a certificate or permit from the state DOT.
A minimum of eight hours of classroom instruction will be required. ODOT has authority to appoint agents to carry out instruction either in person or online. The maximum allowable fee for training increases from $60 to $200.
Additionally, ODOT is allowed to charge interest on any overdue taxes or fees from collection of the weight-mile tax.
Local speed limits
HB3055 also authorizes ODOT to delegate to cities, Multnomah and Clackamas counties the authority to set speed limits on roads under their jurisdiction. Speeds must be set under criteria adopted by the highway agency. LL
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