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Does Oregon NEED a New Transportation Package? Rep. Gail Whitsett Answers

June 18, 2016

I won’t say much here, as Rep. Gail Whitsett of Klamath Falls has nailed it.  We do NOT need a new package ie: tax increase.  We have the money now.  The problem, as always with state government, is how it’s spent.  Read her comments here:

“We have adequate money for roads and bridges, a lot of our ODOT funds are being spent on “bike lanes” in places with ice on the roads for 6 months out of the year and ‘sidewalks to nowhere’ in tiny (I mean tiny 25 person towns) in Eastern Oregon. I see miles and miles of bike lanes with no one on them in rural Oregon towns….ever. The worst is the millions upon millions being spent on slough (wetland) mitigation by ODOT. Every time a piece of land is paved, another piece somewhere has to be purchased and put into a mitigation bank for the state to own. The Democrats in the Legislature passed these requirements and they can “unpass” them and make our roads and bridges a priority – not green energy projects (lots of electric vehicle charging stations with no cars at them). I see “art” at a cost of millions under/over our highways, poured into the concrete. All of this is superfluous to safe roads and bridges, but tens , if not hundreds of millions are being wasted each year on special environmental, art and non-essential bike/trails and sidewalks to nowhere, as in Bly, Oregon. We have ODOT employees traveling the world and I mean places like Paris, New Zealand, South America, England, ad infinitum to ‘study’ how to tax vehicles and track them. I know these things because I sit on the Ways and Means sub-Committee for Transportation and the full Ways and Means Committee and see the incredible waste by ODOT bureaucrats. ODOT also employs thousands yet then contracts/hires out the physical construction aspects to specialty ‘groups’ like minorities/women, etc at inflated prices in order to be ‘diverse’. Some of these jobs need to be re-contracted because the groups do not complete them properly, because they don’t have the know how. In my opinion, the effort has been place on non-essential issues – not roads and bridges. Of course, our comments in committee and our votes are defeated by the majority party wishes and emphasis on green energy, art, environmental desires, increasing salaries and wages for thousands of employees each year, instead of road paving and bridge safety. Just my view from the trenches. These are my opinions and I do think there are some great employees, who work hard and I do think that teaching minorities and women how to contract and work on highways is a great thing, but we need to be very careful HOW we do this. Every company that contracts with ODOT should have to have a HISTORY of completing jobs, ADEQUATELY, ON TIME (no cost over runs – another issue I have with ODOT and other state agencies), WITH NO ‘RE-DO’s’ of the job. We should only contract with those companies who have proven they can handle the job and for the lowest cost (those two issues must go together). Also, we need proper geologic LIDAR analyses of projects so we don’t end up building highways on landslides, etc. like the road to the coast from Corvallis to Newport, with multiple tens of millions spent on an incomplete highway.”

All I can say is “WOW!”  This is a very good reason why I will greatly miss Gail Whitsett in the Oregon Legislature (she and her husband, Sen. Doug Whitsett are retiring this year).  She is a friend, colleague and one of the great Conservatives in Oregon.  She speaketh the truth!

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