Congressman Peter DeFazio applauded the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package - and the tens of millions of dollars heading to Oregon - but said the work is not done on Capitol Hill.
During a press briefing Friday, DeFazio said the infrastructure package passed last week will make a big difference in Oregon, but he added the Build Back Better package being considered is equally important for the future of the state and nation.
"We finally passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill," DeFazio said. "A lot of people miss even what this bill means. The overall bill is the largest single investment in transportation infrastructure since the construction of the highway infrastructure. This will deal with problems I've been talking about forever."
In Coos Bay, the bill will enable repairs of the north jetty at the Port of Coos Bay and will also provide funding for repairs at the old Georgia Pacific mill site to enable to a shipping container facility to be built.
While there is a lot to applaud, DeFazio said it is just the start of what's needed.
"This is not the end of the story," he said. "We're now working on the president's Build Back Better."
DeFazio said the infrastructure bill will make a big difference across Oregon.
"Over the term of the bill, we're going to get $3.4 billion for highways and $268 million for bridges and bridge repair."
There will also be $750 million for public transportation programs in Oregon.
"It will benefit smaller cities and rural areas," DeFazio said. "We need to think of more innovative ways to move people."
Another $529 million will be allocated for water infrastructure in the state.
"We have massive needs in Oregon for wastewater and drinking water," DeFazio said. "I did a call a few months ago with counties, and most counties in my district are red, run by Republicans. Their No. 1 need was water and wastewater followed by roads and bridges."
Another $100 million will be available to expand broadband in the state with $52 million for electric vehicle charging stations.
DeFazio said the bill does not include funding to pay for the entire package, but he's fine with that.
"I don't begrudge borrowing money to invest in infrastructure," he said. "It's an investment. It's not just spending money."
With the bill approved by Congress, DeFazio said the state can start moving forward with projects that have been on hold for some time.
"Oregon knows they are getting $3.4 billion for highways," he said. "Some of the projects are on the books. I expect we will see a lot of action in the construction season next year."
Another key aspect for coastal Oregon is funding to dredge all the harbors in the state. That will include Coos Bay, Gold Beach and Brookings.
"I think you're going to see a lot of activity in a lot of sectors," DeFazio said. "Certainly there's a sense of urgency. Oregon knows what it's going to get, and they can now go forward and plan their contracts."
The next step, according to DeFazio is Build Back Better, which includes elements he wanted in the infrastructure package that were removed.
"I'm hopeful next week we'll pass Build Back Better out of the House," DeFazio said. "Now the Senate is a whole other problem. That is going to be a long slog over there."