By Rep. Terry Beyer (D-Springfield)
As construction begins on the Woodburn Interchange over the coming year, Woodburn small businesses, commuters, and others who care about the safety and economic vitality of the community can thank their representative in Salem, Betty Komp. And they can thank their lucky stars her opponent in this year’s campaign didn’t have a chance to block the bipartisan bill that made that project and others like it possible.
The Woodburn Interchange has been a top priority for the community of Woodburn for decades, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that a candidate for election from that district would choose this topic for attack. Sure enough, though, I’ve now seen copies of the mailers assailing Betty’s support of the bill.
The Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009, HB 2001, was my main focus in the 2009 Legislature. As chair of the House Transportation Committee, I worked closely with Betty Komp, Rep. Vicki Berger, Republican of Salem, and Sen. Bruce Starr, Republican of Hillsboro, to craft HB 2001, which made the Woodburn Interchange and other transportation projects like it across the state possible.
Sen. Starr and Rep. Berger were tireless advocates for the bill throughout the session, helping make certain we crafted a bill that would serve communities across the state, and make the very most of Oregonians’ precious tax dollars. Betty Komp was a doggedly determined advocate for the community of Woodburn, making certain that the final bill included the funding needed to finally move that long-awaited project forward.
Betty, Rep. Berger, Sen. Starr, and I all knew we needed put people to work right away. We had to do everything in our power to create and preserve jobs during the worst of the global economic crisis and speed up Oregon’s path to economic recovery. The Jobs and Transportation Act will create a projected 40,000 jobs in Oregon and will fix and improve outdated roads and bridges that Oregonians rely on every day. In Woodburn, the Interchange project is projected to create or preserve approximately 880 jobs in construction and related industries, as well as additional jobs at restaurants, stores, and other businesses in and around Woodburn.
What’s more, the new Woodburn Interchange made possible in the Jobs and Transportation Act will support economic development opportunities in Woodburn and the surrounding area by making more land available for development and improving access to those new lands as well as Woodburn’s downtown. The Woodburn business community and city leaders and volunteers have been closely involved in the planning of the new Interstate 5 gateway to Woodburn, and they have supported efforts to create the new gateway at the Woodburn Interchange for decades.
In this struggling economy, how someone could oppose a bill that creates that many jobs, supports that level of economic and community development, reduces traffic congestion, and improves safety is hard to fathom.