Audit says ODOT is misaligned with governing body, commissioners vow change

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ODOT Director Matt Garrett listens to a presentation about the audit from Tyler Duvall of McKinsey & Company.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett sat silenty for nearly two hours today while members of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, ODOT’s governing body) probed deeper into an audit of the agency he has led since 2005.

ODOT got solid marks from auditors in some categories — like organizational culture and building and maintaining highways. But auditors also found the agency needs a clearer short-term plan and more effective coordination with its governing body, the OTC.

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ODOT/OTC release stimulus funds application, process details

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“The OTC also recognizes the need to balance highway needs with other modal needs.”
— From a statement released by ODOT today

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC), acting on behalf of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), has announced the application process and more details on how they’ll allocate their remainder of federal stimulus funds.

The OTC approved 31 projects totaling $122 million as part of their first phase of funding decisions. In Phase II, the OTC will have about $110 million to assign to transportation projects throughout the state.

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Who’s deciding where our state’s stimulus money goes?

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OTC Commissioners:

  • Gail Achterman
  • Michael Nelson
  • Janice Wilson
  • Alan Brown
  • David Lohman

See photos/bios below

Now that it’s crunch-time for the Oregon Department of Transportation and their Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to decide on how to spend the infrastructure chunk of our federal stimulus money, I thought you might want to know a little more about them.

Before I started doing this site full-time, I had no idea what the OTC was. It wasn’t until I started meeting the region’s powerful movers-and-shakers in the transportation world that I began to realize how much influence this commission had. People would mention the OTC to me in hushed tones, as if it were some sort of impenetrable cabal that wielded massive power and influence.

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Bike projects expected to compete better in next phase of stimulus funding

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State transportation planners are scrambling to get their “shovel ready” projects in order and they’re waiting eagerly by their inboxes this morning. That’s because any day now, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is expected to release the application forms for what they’re calling “Phase II of the Federal Economic Stimulus”.

I spoke with ODOT’s communications director Patrick Cooney (he’s also the spokesperson for the Oregon Transportation Commission) yesterday and he said Phase II will allocate $110 million* the next phase of stimulus funding for infrastructure projects will get underway very soon.

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Group responds to ODOT/OTC stimulus decision: “What went wrong?”

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“What went wrong?… The Transportation Commission got heavy pressure from pro-highway legislators, road builders, and Washington County and other local governments looking for road-building money.”
— excerpt from a statement set to go out to supporters of Transportation for Oregon’s Future

Transportation for Oregon’s Future — a “network of organizations and businesses supporting transportation choices for the 21st Century” — is not happy with the decisions made by ODOT’s Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) on how to spend Oregon’s initial, $122 million chunk of federal stimulus funds.

As we reported this morning, the OTC decided last week to fund just one bike/ped project (valued at $2.5 million) out of 30 total projects and they did not fund a single transit project.

Bob Stacey is the executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon and he’s working on the Transportation for Oregon’s Future effort. He is disappointed in the OTC’s decision and he’s already planning a course of action. He gave me a sneak peek at the email he plans to send out to supporters (1,300 of them wrote to Governor Kulongoski about this issue in just a few days).

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Oregon chooses just one bike/ped project with stimulus funds

Riders will no longer be in
the dark on the I-205 bike path.
(Photo © J. Maus)

On Friday, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, a body appointed by Governor Kulongoski) made their final decisions on how to spend $122,592,742 in federal stimulus funds. And, if you remember our report from last week, it seems like their “cautious willingness” to consider non-highway projects turned out to be more cautious than willingness.

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Metro urges state to re-think its federal stimulus project list

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Chair of the Oregon Transportation
Commission, Gail Achterman, is in
the driver’s seat on how our state
spends its federal stimulus money.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) is meeting this morning in Salem to discuss which infrastructure projects will get built with money from America’s recently passed economic stimulus plan.

The OTC is a five member panel that is housed within the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and appointed by the Governor. They meet once a month and their job is to establish statewide transportation policies and manage the transportation network.

As the OTC solidifies their final, $350 million project list, some agencies are encouraging them to take a deep breath and re-think their priorities.

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