State Sen. Metsger says Oregon lagging in transportation investment
Oregon state Sen. Rick Metsger said last week that the state risks losing critical businesses and industry if it does not remove existing barriers to good movement throughout the state.
The Mt. Hood Democrat offered the case of Intel as an example. The chipmaker, according to Metsger, pays 10 percent of the state's corporate tax, but has difficulty moving products the 20 miles from its Hillsboro manufacturing complex to Portland.
Speaking to Gold Beach Rotary members last Wednesday, Metsger, chair of the state Senate Committee on Business, Transportation and Workforce Development, said Oregon is lagging behind neighboring states in infrastructure investment, and needs to pump $500 million into state transportation projects just to keep up. Annually, California spends three times more per capita on transportation than Oregon, with eastern neighbors Idaho and Nevada spending double. Even Washington voters, Metsger pointed out, are set to vote on an initiative that will greatly increase that state's annual spending on transportation.
Metsger also said that even areas where there has been good progress in Oregon, such as attempts to develop a deepwater port at the Port of Coos Bay, are threatened by the lack of investment in transportation. He said that in the case of Coos Bay, if rail projects to the port are not completed, the entire development will be for naught.