OTC Considers STIP Funding Scenarios and Input from Advisory Committees Heading
PORTLAND, OR Representatives of Area Commissions on Transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and other advisory committees provided input on Statewide Transportation Improvement Program funding priorities to the Oregon Transportation Commission at this year's annual workshop.
At the commission's request, ODOT presented three detailed funding scenarios for consideration and showed how House Bill 2017, the legislative transportation funding package, directs specific funding to various categories of programs. The two major categories are Fix-It (which funds bridges, pavement preservation, culverts, and other projects that preserve the transportation system) and Enhance Highway (which funds projects that expand highway capacity).
"House Bill 2017 was built on the assumption that ODOT would keep the current Fix-It funding level the same," said Paul Mather, ODOT Highway Division Administrator. "The bill directs funding to specific Enhance projects and puts the remainder of funding into defined Fix-It programs. It also directs additional funding into specific Safety and Non-Highway programs."
Although funding levels are set for Safety, Local and Non-Highway programs, the commission can choose how to target funds among different modes and types of projects within these categories.
The three scenarios differ by how much federal funding goes toward the Fix-It program versus the Enhance Highway program. Funding levels for Non-Highway, Safety and Local programs are the same in each scenario.
Scenario 1 keeps the Enhance Highway program at the same funding level as the 2018-2021 STIP ($124 million). When HB 2017 projects are factored in, more money goes into Enhance Highway than Fix-It. This scenario lowers the amount of Fix-It funding than assumed under HB 2017.
Scenario 2 provides the same amount of federal highway funding for Fix-It programs as the commission allocated in the 2018-2021 STIP, which leaves $24 million for Enhance Highway. In this scenario, more funding goes toward Fix-It than Enhance.
Scenario 3 eliminates federal funding for the Enhance program, so ACTs and ODOT would have no additional funding for Enhance projects.
After receiving feedback from the advisory committees, the commission took Scenario 3 off the table. As a result, some funding will be available to address congestion and highway modernization needs, and the ACTs can remain engaged in project selection.
ODOT staff recommended distributing the Enhance Highway money to ODOT regions and using the funds as a leverage opportunity for the ACTs to add Enhance features to Fix It projects.
ODOT also recommended giving the ACTs the opportunity to add safety and non-highway features to Fix-It projects, which would give ACTs additional opportunities to recommend priority projects.
Advisory committee representatives in attendance weighed in on the funding allocation. The majority supported making Fix-It and Safety the priorities. Also high on the list were ensuring freight movement on main arterials and providing economic development opportunities.
Other comments focused on seismic resiliency, funding flexibility, and enhanced public transit services. The ACTs voiced support for ODOT's proposal to keep the ACTs engaged in project selection by providing funding they can use to add elements to Fix-It projects.
The commissioners thanked the advisory committees for their input and asked ODOT to provide more details on Scenarios 1 and 2 at the November meeting, when the commission will provide its direction on the final scenario.