Oregon Gov. Kotek, state leaders approve more ODOT funding as winter weather arrives

By Joni Auden Land (OPB)
Dec. 2, 2023 2 p.m.

Update: Oregon lawmakers have approved the governor’s office request of $19 million for winter road maintenance.

Gov. Tina Kotek — along with Senate President Rob Wagner and House Speaker Dan Rayfield — announced the one-time funding for the Oregon Department of Transportation on Monday, Dec. 4.

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About $8 million will cover maintenance costs this winter, including purchasing materials like deicer and removing an overtime restriction on road maintenance staff.

Another $7 million will pay for fixing potholes, as well as repainting edge lines on low-trafficked roads — which ODOT temporarily stopped doing this year.

The remaining $4 million will replace 10 trucks primarily used for snow plowing. ODOT has about 400 of these trucks, many of which need extensive repairs, according to Kotek’s office.

Original story below:

As parts of Oregon begin seeing their first heavy snowfall of the season, state officials are looking for new ways to fund winter road maintenance across the state.

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Gov. Tina Kotek told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday that her office is seeking $19 million in one-time funding to help the Oregon Department of Transportation meet winter maintenance needs this winter. The money would fund additional overtime and new equipment, she said.

A plow with the Oregon Department of Transportation works the roads in the Cascades in Douglas County on Feb. 13, 2023. ODOT has said it will decrease some winter road maintenance due to a decline in revenue.

A plow with the Oregon Department of Transportation works the roads in the Cascades in Douglas County on Feb. 13, 2023. ODOT has said it will decrease some winter road maintenance due to a decline in revenue.

Courtesy of ODOT

The agency announced earlier this year it would reduce some winter road maintenance, such as plowing or deicing roads, in the face of massive budget deficits.

The agency has said it’s seeing decreased revenue from the state gas tax, and also is grappling with the increased price of deicing products.

ODOT has said that increased purchases of electric and fuel-efficient vehicles are partially behind the revenue decrease.

Officials from ODOT have also said they will work on “focusing (their) efforts on work with the biggest outcomes for the most people.”

The governor said a larger conversation around transportation funding will come in 2025, and that this funding will meet the need for this winter only.

“We have to make sure that we can do what we can to make sure our roads are safe,” Kotek said. “I want to be clear, there are dollars now to do most of the highway maintenance during the winter, but we do have some gaps.”

ODOT has created winter service maps for different regions of Oregon, showing how the agency is prioritizing certain roadways as snow conditions begin.

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