▶️ More ODOT funding approved for winter road maintenance, Kotek’s office says

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More funding is being directed to the Oregon Department of Transportation to make sure roads are maintained this winter, Gov. Tina Kotek’s office announced Monday.

ODOT said earlier this year that some secondary highways — such as Century Drive to Mt. Bachelor — would see reduced snow plow and maintenance activity due to less revenue. ODOT has cited reduced gas tax revenues and inflation as part of the problem.

In a joint statement, Democrats Kotek, Senate President Rob Wagner and House Speaker Dan Rayfield, announced Monday that $19 million is coming to ODOT for highway safety and maintenance.

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“We’re going to be able to start making changes immediately,” said Kacey Davey, public information officer with ODOT. “One of the biggest things that’s an easy, immediate change we can make is allowing the authorization of more overtime for our staff.”

That authorization means ODOT can have more plows on the road, more often.

“It especially goes into effect during big storms because crews in the past work a lot of overtime hours to keep those roads plowed during the wintertime,” Davey said.

ODOT is doing this work on the promise of funds in the future. The agency will have to pay for the work now, with the state committing to backfunding them next legislative session.

ODOT says they remain facing a long-term budget deficit and will continue searching for additional funding.

“We will be working closely with the governor and the legislature towards building sustainable funding for years to come in the next 2025 legislative session,” Davey said.

Kotek’s office said $8 million will restore winter maintenance efforts for the 2023-25 biennium. That will include a removal of overtime restrictions and purchase of salt and deicer.

$4 million will go to replace 10 trucks primarily used for snow plowing, but those won’t be delivered until next winter. Kotek’s office said ODOT has about 400 such trucks, but many of them are past their service life. That can lead to higher repair costs.

The other $7 million will go to highway safety improvements — $4.5 million of which will be for fixing potholes and patching pavement due to the freeze-thaw cycle. The other $2.5 million will be to retrace edge lines on low-volume highways next spring.

“Oregon needs to have safe state highways,” Kotek said in a statement. “I am committed to finding long-term solutions that ensure our state roads and highways are meeting the needs of Oregon families, businesses, and visitors.”

Oregon legislators recently told ODOT to go ahead and make sure winter maintenance stayed up to par and that they would find the money in the next legislative session. ODOT said, in response, it would start making changes as soon as it received confirmation from the legislature or from Kotek that money was available.

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