Merkley, Wyden, DeFazio, Schrader announce $8 million investment in Mill City infrastructure

The project renovates a bridge that serves as a major rural freight route

PORTLAND, OR — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio, who is ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, today announced more than $8 million in grant funding to repair and renovate the North Santiam River Bridge, a major rural connector on a designated freight route near Mill City, which sits in Linn and Marion counties.

“This is the type of direct investment we should be making in our bridges, roads, and other infrastructure,” Merkley said. “With this grant funding, not only will a route that connects rural areas to important goods and services be repaired, but also a system of street, bicycle and pedestrian improvements will be completed. I will continue to use my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fight for these kinds of investments to create good jobs now, and the infrastructure to support growth and prosperity into the future.”

“Infrastructure investment is a must for Oregon and nationwide to maintain strong transportation connections for motorists, commuters, pedestrians and cyclists,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that those who live and work in rural Marion and Linn counties will benefit from this investment. The combination of local and federal dollars is a winning equation for the local economy and rural life.”

“This highly competitive TIGER grant will make a major impact in the Mill City community by funding  much-needed repairs to a critical piece of infrastructure in Oregon,” DeFazio said. “The resulting improvements from these repairs will allow even more use of the North Santiam River Bridge—from bicycles, pedestrians, freight, and passenger vehicles. I’m proud I was able to help secure the funds that will help this infrastructure last for many decades to come.”

“The ability to bring a project like this one to reality can mean the difference between a flourishing and a floundering local economy, particularly in our rural communities like Mill City,”Schrader said. “Having roads, bridges, and pathways of all sorts are an absolute necessity to every modern economy. Without the ability to safely and quickly transport people and goods, a rural community is severely restricted in its ability to grow. This grant is huge for Mill City, and the larger community, as it continues its economic climb following its decades of economic hardships with the decline of timber.”

Mill City sits in both Linn County (south of the Santiam River) and Marion County (north of the Santiam River). In addition to repairing the North Santiam River Bridge, the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant of $8,082,574 will repair and renovate a local historic railroad pedestrian bridge and complete a system of improvements in Mill City, including constructing a new transit shelter and street, bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

“This project is a great opportunity to improve not only Mill City, but the entire region,” said Marion County Commissioner Kevin Cameron. “This is an excellent example of cooperation between city, county, state, and federal agencies to enhance economic development efforts, as well as improve the quality of life for the residents of the North Santiam Canyon.”

“Grants such as this make it possible for small, rural communities to upgrade infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population,” said Mill City Mayor Tim Kirsch. “We appreciate having Oregon’s federal delegation in our corner. Their support is appreciated and has been instrumental in helping us remain competitive for federal grant opportunities.”

“This grant award is a reflection of the success of the Mill City, Marion County, and Linn County team effort,” said Linn County Engineer Chuck Knoll. “We look forward to a continuation of this collaboration in the development, design, and construction of this project.”

TIGER grants are awarded on a competitive basis for capital investments in transportation infrastructure. Last fall, both Congressman Schrader and Ranking Member DeFazio sent letters to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in support of city’s application for TIGER grant funding.