Feds send $15M to Warm Springs highway safety projects


Federal lawmakers announced nearly $43 million in funding Tuesday for transportation infrastructure headed to Warm Springs, Salem and Portland, with a third of the money aimed at reshaping a highway running through the Warm Springs Reservation.

Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Oregon Democrats, cheered $15 million headed to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs’ Commercial Corridor Safety Project.

press release from the senators states the Warm Springs project will design and construct improvements to the highway corridor through the reservation, such as speed reduction treatments, a new roundabout and a multi-use path on both sides of the highway.

Merkley credited the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law with supporting the Warm Springs project, and two other major transportation projects in the state, including $25 million for TriMet to build a regional zero-emissions bus base in Portland, and $2.7 million for Salem to redevelop a section of Front Street.

“Reimagining transportation systems across our state will benefit every Oregonian while creating good-paying jobs in communities that are in desperate need of 21st-century transportation routes,” Merkley said in the statement.

The funding will pass through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, grant program, which lawmakers said is intended to upgrade roads, railways and transit systems.

In recent years, more people are dying in car crashes across all of Oregon, even as the number of crashes involving only property damage dropped, according to counts by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

As of 2022, the total number of car crashes in Oregon had stayed below pre-pandemic levels. But the data shows that 30 miles of U.S. Highway 26 running through the Warm Springs Reservation bucks that broader trend. The total number of crashes recorded on this rural stretch of road broke a 10-year record in 2022.