- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - During a visit to Eugene and Springfield, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown again called on state lawmakers to approve more transportation funding.

Brown has asked the Legislature to pass a major transportation funding package in 2017. It would likely be paid for by higher gas taxes and vehicle registration and driver license fees, The Register-Guard reported (https://bit.ly/26rH1Ay).

During her visit, Brown took a short bus ride along Franklin Boulevard with local officials. The route is being considered for major upgrades and could receive money from the transportation package.

Springfield officials have long wanted to turn Franklin into an upscale development hub, and Eugene officials want to improve the stretch of the road near the University of Oregon.

“What is envisioned for Franklin Boulevard would help improve the economic vitality of Eugene and Springfield,” Brown said during brief remarks near the university. She called it “absolutely critical that the state move forward.”

Brown wouldn’t say exactly how much money she supports raising for transportation. She did say the money should be used to make roads and bridges more resistant to earthquakes, ease congestion and provide more choices for mass transit or other alternative forms of transportation.

A transportation package proposed in 2015 would have raised about $300 million, but it ultimately died at the end of the legislative session. State lawmakers hope to start negotiations for the 2017 session early.

Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek are expected to name a new special committee of lawmakers to work on the new proposal later this week. The committee will hold public meetings every month for the rest of the year.

Legislative leaders hope they will have a finalized proposal ready for consideration at the start of the 2017 session.

Brown said she supports that plan.

“What you put in a process, you get out of a process,” she said. “We anticipate we will collaborate with the legislative committee members to develop a package that will meet the needs of Oregon.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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