Oregon will receive over $5 billion in 5 years from Biden's infrastructure bill

Bill Poehler
Salem Statesman Journal

Oregon is expected to receive at least $5.3 billion in federal funding for roads and other infrastructure when President Joe Biden signs the long-debated $1.2 trillion bill into law, according to estimates from the White House.

Most of that money, $3.4 billion, will be earmarked for roads; Oregon also will receive large amounts for bridges, public transportation, electric vehicle chargers, internet, airports and drinking water filtration and distribution systems from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"This is the biggest investment in our highway and bridge system since Dwight D. Eisenhower,” said U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Canby. “Come on man, that’s 60, 70 years ago. Biggest investment ever."

Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Monday.

As chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, who represents District 4 that includes Eugene-Springfield region, played a key role in the drafting and enactment of the Build Back Better agenda, noting it "will make badly needed improvements to our rail systems, bridges and highways, transit, water and broadband infrastructure, as well as our ports and airports."

The Oregon Department of Transportation is expecting to receive about $1.2 billion of initial money.

The rest of the $3.4 billion for roads will go to counties, cities and metropolitan planning organizations.

According to ODOT, Eugene will receive $35 million for roads in the next five years, an increase of $8 million, and Salem will receive $34 million in funding, also an increase of $8 million.

President Joe Biden awaits the bipartisan infrastructure package passed in the House.

Eugene’s public transit will receive $67 million, an increase of $17 million, while public transportation in Salem will receive $33 million, an increase of $8 million.

According to estimates by the White House, Oregon will reap huge amounts of money over the next five years:

  • $3.4 billion for highway program and $268 million for bridge repairs and replacement
  • $747 million for public transportation like busses
  • $529 million for improving water infrastructure
  • $211 million for infrastructure development at airports
  • $100 million for high-speed internet
  • $52 million for expansion of an electric vehicle charging network. 
  • $39 million for wildfire prevention
  • $15 million to protect against cyberattacks

Sen. Ron Wyden, as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, will have a role in making sure the legislation invests in children, caregiving and affordable housing; lowers prescription drug costs; and tackles the climate crisis.

"I’ve said for a long time, you can't have a big league economy with little league infrastructure," Wyden said about the bill passing. "My work isn't over to deliver on equally important priorities in the Build Back Better package."

The funding hasn’t been allocated to specific projects, but Schrader said he’s looking forward to playing “a little bit of Santa Claus in a fiscally responsible way to our communities.”

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“We’re going to be able to do things we could only imagine would have taken maybe another decade to accomplish,” Schrader said. “And for some of the smaller towns in the district, if you’re up at Detroit Lake … you’re going to have the opportunity to rebuild your water system with federal help. And that community, the tax base is destroyed.

Infrastructure like water filtration and distribution as well as roads in cities like Detroit and Blue River were damaged or destroyed in the Labor Day Wildfires in 2020.

How much money will flow to those communities is yet to be determined.

State and local agencies also will be able to apply for many pools of competitive grant funds from the federal government.

“I put a slide up of Secretary of the Transportation Pete Buittigieg because he’s going to be our new best friend,” ODOT assistant director for revenue and finance Travis Brouwer said. “He’s got $100 billion dollars that he’s going to be able to dole out for discretionary grant opportunities for all different types of transportation programs across the country — road, transit rail, airports and other modes as well.

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“We are all going to be getting our grant writing pens out and spending a lot of time trying to bring additional money back to Oregon.”

Brouwer said ODOT will go after grant funds for large Portland-area projects like the interstate bridge replacement and the Interstate 5 Rose Quarter.

He said funds made available in Oregon House Bill 2017, a $5.3 billion transportation package, gives the state the initial funds it needs to be competitive in going after those pools.

That means Oregon could end up with more than the initial $5 billion.

“The feds love people who bring most of the money to the table and all they have to do is provide the last dollar in to finish off the finance plan for a major project,” Brouwer said.

Oregon is going to have to spend a chunk of the money quickly.

About $150 million of the initial money it will receive must be allocated in the current fiscal year and the Oregon Transportation Commission will have to decide what programs it can get to that point quickly.

Brouwer said it usually takes four years once the OTC funds a program before it gets started.

“This go around, we have more like four months,” he said. “This federal funding is 'use it or lose it.' If it’s not obligated to projects in the federal fiscal year, we lose the money. We have no intention of doing so.”

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A screen capture from video of Congressman Kurt Schrader during a May 16th hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee Democrats who are investigating the health and safety risks of native children at BIE boarding schools.

Amtrak will receive $66 billion to improve service from the bill, and has the potential to significantly impact the line from Eugene and Salem north into Washington and Canada.

The Oregon Transportation Commission will receive a briefing about the additional funds it will receive at its Nov. 18 meeting and will decide by March how to spend about a third of the $1.2 billion it expects to receive from the bill.

For months, Biden’s signature infrastructure bill was held up as it was connected with the now $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill that includes things like child care, health care and climate change.

But a vote on the infrastructure bill in the House of Representatives finally took place Nov. 5, and now is waiting to be signed.

“We’re trying to get it implemented as soon as possible so the agencies could actually have the money in hand and be ready for the next building season, but we got disrespected," Schrader said of the beltway politics. "But we hung in there, despite people trying to put pressure on us, we said no, this is a good bipartisan bill, this is what America wants, we’re going to hang in there until we get that vote.”

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Bill Poehler covers Marion County for the Statesman Journal. Contact him at or