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State makes $4 million available for nonhighway projects

Some Connect Oregon applicants will get a second chance; commission to decide Feb. 19.


Three dozen transportation projects may get a second chance at $4 million in state money.

Sponsors have until Thursday to inform the Oregon Department of Transportation whether they want their projects to be considered for funding.

The second chance has come about because of unspent money in Connect Oregon, which draws from lottery-backed bonds for transportation projects other than highways and bridges.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has limited its second-chance review to 36 projects that failed to gain a share of the $40.3 million that the Oregon Transportation Commission awarded to 36 other projects on Aug. 20.

At the start of the process in 2013, 104 projects with a total price tag of $124 million sought money from Connect Oregon.

Among them was the Port of St. Helens, which sought $2 million for reconstruction of Berth 2 near Clatskanie. Ambre Energy, an Australian company, proposed to match it with $3 million to rebuild the 70-year-old dock for ocean-going ships to carry coal to Asia.

But a majority of the commission had questions about the project’s readiness, and by a 3-2 vote, dropped it from the list of 37 projects recommended for $42.3 million in funding.

The coal would be mined in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, shipped by rail to Boardman, and then taken by barge down the Columbia River to the Port of St. Helens. Ambre Energy is appealing the denial by a different state agency of a permit for a coal-loading dock at Boardman.

Since the commission acted Aug. 20, an additional $2 million in savings makes possible $4 million more for projects.

The second-chance process will start with a public meeting of an ODOT review committee Jan. 7 at the Holiday Inn Portland Airport. The committee will consider only those projects for which sponsors still seek funding — and members will question only sponsors.

Once the review committee completes its recommendations, public testimony on the projects will be scheduled at part of the regular meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission on Jan. 15 in Salem.

The commission is expected to decide the winning applicants at its Feb. 19 meeting in Salem.

pwong@PamplinMedia.com

(503) 385-4899

twitter.com/capitolwong


Corrects location of Berth 2 dock. Add a comment