by Shelley Strom, Business Journal staff writer
Oregon transportation officials are celebrating the unanimous passage of ConnectOregon -- a legislative proposal by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to provide $100 million for transportation projects throughout the state.
"It has been passed and exists almost exactly as it was drafted," said Pat Egan, government relations manager for the Port of Portland, a supporter of the bill.
The Senate passed ConnectOregon Wednesday afternoon, following passage by the House late on Tuesday.
The bill, known as SB-71, will provide funding from lottery-backed bonds for non-highway projects.
Expenditures that could qualify might include improvements to railroads, a portion of the cost establishing air service at airports without regular service and cranes to move cargo from shipping vessels onto trucks or trains.
Those types of projects do not receive support from transportation-related taxes that fund highways and bridges. A provision in the constitution limits proceeds from the gas and freight weight taxes to highways and bridges. Since 1978, voters four times have rejected proposals to alter that provision.
Once signed by the governor, the bill will go into effect, likely next month.
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