PORTLAND, OR -- President Joe Biden spent Thursday afternoon in Oregon to promote his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; his first visit to the state since being elected President. He met with Portland Airport officials and dignitaries to discuss several PDX projects receiving federal funding, including a new roof and upgraded runway. He later spoke inside an Oregon Air National Guard hangar, saying the threat of a large earthquake poses a big risk to the airport's infrastructure. "It wouldn’t just threaten lives, it would threaten to shut down the local economy for a heck of a lot longer than the two months it takes to fix an escalator. Folks, but your Senators and Congressmen are looking out for you. They fought to dedicate $3.75 million in the last omnibus bill to build a resilient runway here at PDX."
The President says of the $25 billion the law will spend to modernize airports nationwide, $211 million is earmarked for 50 Oregon airports, "These ports and airports are open for more business. And we’re sending the same message about your roads and your bridges. Right now, there are nearly 400 bridges and about 1300 miles of highway in poor condition, just here in Oregon." Biden said driving on those poor roads costs Oregonians an extra $256 a year in gas, repairs and longer commutes, calling it a "hidden tax." He says the infrastructure law will help, "We’re making the most significant investment to modernize roads and bridges in the last 70 years, since Eisenhower’s state highway system. This year alone, we’re delivering $662 million to fix roads and bridges in Oregon, plus an additional $53 million in dedicated funding for bridges."
Biden also says money is coming to speed up recovery from extreme weather events. "Over the last decade, extreme weather has cost the state of Oregon at least $5 billion in damages," he said, "Our infrastructure law upgrades, modernizes and strengthens transmission lines, helping communities to deal with floods, drought and wildfires that are only coming with more frequency and ferocity."
He also said the law funds more drinking water infrastructure and expands broadband access. His speech was to a friendly crowd of union workers and politicians, including Governor Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a few City Councilors and Oregon’s Democratic Congressional Delegation. After Biden’s visit to the Airport, he took part in a Democratic fundraiser at the Portland Yacht Club. He's in Seattle on Friday.