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Oregon 2019 Report

 

Oregon Infrastructure Overview

Infrastructure is critical to supporting the way Oregonians live, get to work, and stay healthy. Our roads take us to vacations in the Cascades or at the Coast, our bridges provide access to work, schools, and hospitals, and our water pipes bring us clean, potable drinking water. Our infrastructure is also critically important to commerce and trade, which Oregon depends on.

Oregon has a long history of supporting infrastructure through funding and innovation. We were the first state to implement a gas tax and we were home to the first transmission line in the U.S. More recently, we became the first state to pilot a road usage charge program to pay for necessary transportation infrastructure repairs. Oregon’s long legacy of supporting its infrastructure is something to be proud of. However, we face significant challenges that need to be addressed head on through substantial planning, strong leadership, and adequate financial assistance. Oregon’s population continues to steadily grow and some of our infrastructure systems are experiencing capacity challenges. Meanwhile, many of Oregon’s assets, including bridges, dams, and pipelines, were built 50 to 100 years ago and are at the end of their service life.

Additionally, we now better understand the likelihood that Western Oregon will experience a potential 9.0 magnitude earthquake – “the Big One” – sometime during the next generation. Protecting our residents and our infrastructure against a major seismic event requires substantial funding.

The Report Card was created to help Oregonians understand the state of our infrastructure. As civil engineers, our job is to plan, design, construct, and maintain our infrastructure networks. This document allows us to share that information with the public. The Report Card provides a snapshot for residents and policymakers to engage in a conservation about where we are and where we want to be.

Report Card Summary Here.

Oregon Infrastructure Grades

Bridges
Bridges
C

Infrastructure is critical to supporting the way Oregonians live, get to work, and stay healthy. Our roads take us to vacations in the Cascades or at the Coast, our bridges provide access to work, schools, and hospitals, and our water pipes bring us clean, potable drinking water. Our infrastructure is also critically important to commerce and trade, which Oregon depends on. Oregon has a long history of supporting infrastructure through funding and innovation. We were the first state to implement a gas tax and we were home to the first transmission line in the U.S. More recently, we became the first state to pilot a road usage charge program to pay for necessary transportation infrastructure repairs. Oregon’s long legacy of supporting its infrastructure is something to be proud of. However, we face significant challenges that need to be addressed head on through substantial planning, strong leadership, and adequate financial assistance. Oregon’s population continues to steadily grow and some of our infrastructure systems are experiencing capacity challenges. Meanwhile, many of Oregon’s assets, including bridges, dams, and pipelines, were built 50 to 100 years ago and are at the end of their service life. Additionally, we now better understand the likelihood that Western Oregon will experience a potential 9.0 magnitude earthquake – “the Big One” – sometime during the next generation. Protecting our residents and our infrastructure against a major seismic event requires substantial funding. The Report Card was created  to help Oregonian understand the state of our infrastructure. As civil engineers, our job is to plan, design, construct, and maintain our infrastructure networks. This document allows us to share that information with the public. The Report Card provides a snapshot for residents and policymakers to engage in a conservation about where we are and where we want to be.

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Dams
Dams
D+

Dams in Oregon provide flood control, drinking water, fish and wildlife protection, recreational areas, and hydroelectric power, among other social and economic benefits. Oregon has 882 dams recorded in the National Inventory of Dams 2018 database. The state regulates 820 dams. Over the last decade, Oregon has slightly improved funding for safety regulation of existing dams and increased the number of dams with Emergency Action Plans. Additional legislation is in progress to modernize Oregon dam safety regulations. However, Oregon dams are aging and there has been no change in funding made available for maintenance, repair, or replacement of state regulated private dams. About two-thirds of Oregon’s dams are older than their typical 50-year design life and in the next five years, more than 70%of these dams will be over 50 years old. Meanwhile, Oregon remains unprepared for extreme hydrologic and seismic events such as the predicted Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

Drinking Water
Drinking Water
C-

Drinking water infrastructure in Oregon faces a variety of challenges. The state’s population is growing rapidly, meaning continuous investment in drinking water infrastructure is necessary to expand treatment and distribution system capacity. Additionally, there is a need to replace old or failed components of drinking water infrastructure, including cast iron pipes that are over 100 years old and still in service in some places. While investments in new infrastructure are expensive, delaying needed system upgrades is not a viable alternative. Meanwhile, there is growing recognition of resiliency challenges within Oregon’s water systems, particularly following a major earthquake generated by the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Preparing for a major earthquake will require substantial additional funding to harden water networks so that they are capable of resisting this threat.

Energy
Energy
D+

Oregon benefits from reliable and affordable energy resources and ranks among the top five states in terms of renewable energy production. Excellent strides are evident in energy efficiency, renewable energy expansion, reduction of fossil fuel consumption, as well as energy sector innovations. While renewable energy infrastructure is generally newer and in good condition much of the time, the existing energy grid is aging. Electrical transmission capacity has less reserve capacity than in the past, causing bottlenecks and constraints regarding operation of the grid. Most petroleum transmission systems and equipment are over 50 years old and storage tanks are over 100 years  old. Additionally, a major concern is the ability of the energy network to perform in the instance of a major Cascadia earthquake. Large portions of the petroleum energy system would be rendered unusable, as transmission and distribution networks lack redundancy and currently exhibit poor conditions.

Inland Waterways
Inland Waterways
C-

Oregon is home to two major waterways– the Columbia and Willamette rivers – that are used to move wheat, soybeans, grain, wood, mineral bulks, vehicles and more. These 681 miles of waterways and ports in Oregon support close to 21,000 jobs and contribute $3.6 billion to the economy. Although the inland waterway network has sufficient capacity, and the infrastructure is in adequate condition to accommodate current cargo and vessel movements, much of the infrastructure is in need of repair or upgrades. Current funding has maintained the status quo and is not adequately addressing the aging and deteriorating jetties, locks, and pile dike structures. There are inadequate turning basins, anchorages, and stern buoys to accommodate the larger vessels transiting the Columbia River. With industry trends to mov cargo in larger and deeper draft vessels, Oregon’s deep draft channels cannot fully accommodate these large vessels and will likely require additional deepening to accommodate the larger ships and remain viable in the future.

Levees
Levees
D+

Based on the U.S. Army n Corps of Engineers (USACE) National Levee Database (NLD), over 100,000 Oregonians live or work behind levees. However, this estimate only includes the levees in the NLD as Oregon does not have a complete inventory of its levees – especially the ones outside USACE’s portfolio. While many levees were constructed or improved using federal funding, local communities are responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance costs associated with levees. Oregon provides limited funding assistance to levee owners, but many communities have been unable to access this assistance or find it insufficient to cover the cost of improvements required for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certification. Of levees inspected by the USACE, approximately 11% (124 miles) of Oregon levees are rated “Minimally Acceptable.” About 30% (113 miles) are rated “Unacceptable.” The remaining levees are of unknown condition. Currently only 14 of Oregon’s 236 levees are certified by FEMA.

Ports
Ports
C-

Oregon’s system of 23 public ports are a critical part of the state’s multimodal freight transportation system. Ports facilitate the movement of timber, agricultural, and manufacturing products to regional and international markets. Each port faces different issues due to differences in waterway conditions, surrounding transportation infrastructure, and goods shipped. The condition of port infrastructure varies from good to poor and ongoing maintenance continues to be a challenge. However, in most cases, port infrastructure is nearing the end of design life and current revenue sources are inadequate to properly maintain or upgrade facilities. Funding to upgrade and/or modernize facilities are dependent on state or federal grants, and those opportunities have declined in recent years. The ports also rely on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to pay for dredging and harbor maintenance projects to maintain access to port facilities. Unfortunately, Congress has redirected revenue from the HMTF to offset unrelated portions of the federal budget. As a result, available funding has been inadequate to address the dredging needs of many harbors.

Rail
Rail
C

Oregon has 2,782 route miles of track, over half of which is operated by Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UP) and BNSF Railway Co. (BNSF). The remainder is operated by a mix of regional, local, and switching and terminal railroads. The state’s two longest short line railroads today are the Portland & Western and the Central Oregon & Pacific. Oregon rail freight tonnage in 2017 was 64.8 million tons, up from 54.4 million tons in 2012. In 2015, railroads employed 2,026 Oregonians and those employees earned $214.8 million in wages and benefits that year. Principal commodities carried by trains are wood and paper products, farm-related products, and chemicals (largely soda ash or potash). Oregon is currently served with passenger train service by the daily Amtrak Coast Starlight that runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, and by Amtrak’s daily Empire Builder between Portland and Chicago. Passenger rail operates on trackage owned by UP and BNSF.

Roads
Roads
C+

Oregon has over 74,000 total miles of roads, which is 2% of the national mileage. An improving economy and a growing population have contributed to significant capacity challenges, particularly in the Portland metropolitan region. Fortunately, Oregon lawmakers acted to provide significant new funding for the transportation system beginning in 2017. From 2017 to 2027, $5.3 billion of additional State Highway Fund revenue will be available to go towards projects that alleviate congestion and improve roadway conditions. Additionally, Oregonians benefit from roads that are generally well-maintained. Statewide, 66% of pavement was in good condition, 24% was in fair condition, and 10% was in poor condition in 2018. Oregon’s highways exceeded pavement condition targets, with 90% in fair to good condition. However, the state’s roadways face challenges in the future related to population growth and seismic resilience.

Wastewater
Wastewater
D

Population growth, state wide asset deterioration, and disaster response are the primary contributors to Oregon’s wastewater infrastructure deficiencies. Oregon’s compliance with Clean Water Act standards depends on its ability to manage substantial demand increases on systems designed for much less capacity and address aging infrastructure on the brink of failure. These needs alone are challenging enough to fulfill but are now magnified by the threat of an upcoming natural disaster. Many of the wastewater systems are beyond useful design life and will soon need replacement or full rehabilitation. Estimates show a total investment  need for Oregon’s wastewater infrastructure of approximately $5 billion. Engineers, planners, and managers must collectively decide during the creation of capital improvement plans how to allocate precious available funds, which almost always fall short of the funds needed to achieve comprehensive system improvements.

A: EXCEPTIONAL, B: GOOD, C: MEDIOCRE, D: POOR, F: FAILING
Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation

Key Facts about Oregon's Infrastructure

Aviation

57 public-use airports

Bridges

444 (5.44%) of the 8,147 bridges are structurally deficient

Dams

158 high hazard dams

Dams with EAPS

83% of the state regulated dams have an Emergency Action Plan

Drinking Water

$6.25 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years

Hazardous Waste

13 sites on the National Priorities List

Inland Waterways

680 miles of inland waterways, ranking it 15th

Levees

362 miles of levees

Ports

32.1 million short tons of cargo in 2012, ranking it 25th nationally

Public Parks

$5.31 million of unmet needs for its parks system

Rail

2,382 miles of freight railroads across the state, ranking 30th nationally

Road Costs

$268 per motorist per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair

Roads

79,275 miles of Public Roads, with 8% in poor condition

Schools

$457 million gap in estimated school capital expenditures

Transit

126,868,084 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems including bus, transit, and commuter trains

Wastewater

$3.89 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years

Key Solutions

Our nation’s infrastructure problems are solvable if we have leadership and commit to making good ideas a reality. Raising the grades on our infrastructure will require that we seek and adopt a wide range of solutions.
Investment

We can no longer afford to defer investment in our nation’s critical infrastructure systems.

Leadership & Planning

Smart investment will only be possible with leadership, planning, and a clear vision for our nation’s infrastructure.

Preparing for the Future

We have to utilize new approaches, materials, and technologies to ensure our infrastructure is more resilient.

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