Congressman Blumenauer Applauds FAST Act Grants to ODOT and Western Road User Charge Consortium
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) welcomed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision, announced yesterday, to award funding to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). ODOT is the recipient of two grants established by the recently-passed Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: 1) a grant to expand and improve the ongoing “OReGO” volunteer demonstration program, which charges for road use based on miles traveled as an alternative to the state gas tax; and 2) a grant to explore a regional road user fee system with partner states, members of the Western Road User Charge Consortium.
“A century ago Oregon led the way with the gas tax, and now, we are pioneering a method that is more fair, effective, and sustainable,” said Representative Blumenauer. “With these grants, the federal government recognizes and supports Oregon’s leadership. This work is vital for the future of our transportation system.”
Representative Blumenauer, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, has long been a leader in advocating for sustainable, long-term solutions to the transportation funding crisis. To address the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, he introduced a bill that would raise the federal gas tax for the first time in 23 years. While an increased and indexed gas tax is the only viable path for 21st century infrastructure in the short-term, the long-term funding solution must move away from a model dependent on gallons of gas consumed to a user fee based on miles traveled. Blumenauer’s legislation to fund state pilot projects like OReGO to explore such an alternative was incorporated in the FAST Act. The grants announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation yesterday are the first round of funding awarded.