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Kitzhaber's pro-CRC stance belies previous position on highway expansions

Monday, February 25th, 2013
John Kitzhaber acceptance speech-5
In 1997, Governor Kitzhaber said, "It's time
we challenged the idea that says we
can build our way out of congestion by adding
more freeway lanes."
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The strong support being given to the $3.4 billion Columbia River Crossing highway expansion project by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber represents a u-turn from his previous positions. The two-time governor was once considered a progressive thinker when it came to transportation. Comments made during his first term as Governor now seem at odds with his strong support for HB 2800, the "CRC bill" that passed a vote in the Oregon House this morning.

On February 13th, during the first of two hearings on HB 2800, Kitzhaber sounded like a staffer for the CRC project. He rattled off all the talking points one by one and painted a picture for lawmakers of dire urgency if the project fails to move forward immediately.

"We must seize this opportunity to get a huge return on investment in Oregon's future," he said, "It's time to build a bridge." Kitzhaber said the project is "construction ready" (even though CRC staff themselves say it's only at a 30% design) and that it will, "Increase mobility" and "Fix one of the worst bottlenecks of any highway system in the U.S." (more...)

Will Kitzhaber make a change at ODOT? We'll know next week

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Last month we delved into the possibility of Governor Kitzhaber naming a new Director at the Oregon Department of Transportation. Today, Kitzhaber's office released a statement saying he has completed a "review process" of agency directors and that he'll make a final decision about who stays and who goes next week. Read the statement below and stay tuned...

Governor Kitzhaber Completes Agency Director Review Process

Following up on his December request for the resignation of 24 agency directors to ensure the state is led by a team that shares a common commitment to transforming Oregon government, Governor Kitzhaber today announced he has completed his review and decided on which resignations to accept. The Governor made clear his priority of building a team that improves the efficiency, productivity, transparency and accountability of state agencies and programs through outcome-based management.

“Our new approach to state government requires that state agency heads be change agents,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “Our team shares a common agenda to change the way the state does business, and agency heads know they will be held accountable for results.”

The Governor will announce the names of his agency directors the week of February 14, after completing personnel and transition matters.

“I appreciate the hard work and commitment all agency directors. Oregonians are lucky to have such talented public servants committed to delivering needed services in the most efficient, effective means possible,” said Governor Kitzhaber.

Kitzhaber mum on transportation: Will he make a change atop ODOT?

Friday, January 21st, 2011
John Kitzhaber acceptance speech-5
Governor Kitzhaber at his
acceptance speech back in
November.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Oregon's newly elected Governor John Kitzhaber has made a many staff appointments in his first month in office. He's named people to help him develop policy on issues like energy policy, business development, job creation, health care, affirmative action, and other issues. But there's one issue where Kitzhaber has been glaringly silent — transportation.

And, while our state faces much more serious issues, there's not shortage of action around transportation right now.

In the 2009 legislative session, former Governor Kulongoski passed the Jobs and Transportation Act that included over $800 million in earmarks for road projects across the state (some of which are already moving forward). ODOT — whose 2007-2009 budget was about $3.4 billion — received federal stimulus funding for over 200 projects — with about 100 of them completed and 40 still under construction. (more...)

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