Salem – Applications are available for the third round of ConnectOregon, a transportation program that provides funds for rail, public transit, air and marine/ports projects. ConnectOregon III was passed by the 2009 Legislature and signed by Governor Kulongoski as part of House Bill 2001, the Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009. Electronic applications and complete instructions are posted on the ConnectOregon Web page.

Like the first and second versions, ConnectOregon III is a lottery bond-based initiative providing $100 million to improve Oregon’s transportation system through multimodal investments, other than highway. ConnectOregon I and II projects, 68 total, are in various stages of completion and include investments such as expanding rail capacity to reduce congestion around the busy Port of Portland and building a new public transit center to house all transportation options in La Grande. Visit the Web site to see the lists of these projects and learn more about the status of each project.

ConnectOregon III has many similarities to its predecessors, including a requirement that at least 10 percent of the funds be provided to each of five regions, which mostly fall along county lines (Portland metropolitan area; Willamette Valley and North/Central Coast; Southern Oregon; Central Oregon; and Eastern Oregon). Projects will also be rated as in the past, taking into consideration economic benefit, readiness for construction, ability to reduce transportation costs, available matching funds or loans and value in linking transportation modes. New this year is a requirement to provide at least five percent of the funds to rural airports.