Merkley Announces Funding for Key Community Safety Projects in Oregon Passes Appropriations Committee

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced he secured funding for two community-initiated projects in the FY24 Homeland Security bill that will strengthen emergency response coordination and lead to infrastructure safety improvements for two Oregon communities.

The bill passed out of the full Senate Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support.

“As I held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties this year, I heard firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including investing in more community safety and infrastructure improvements that can withstand disasters being fueled by climate chaos,” Merkley said. “Funding for these two community-initiated projects will lead to improved emergency response coordination in Central Oregon in the face of increasingly dangerous wildfire seasons, as well as make the City of Warrenton more resilient to flooding.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which is one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

Senator Merkley, along with Senator Ron Wyden, secured the following investments as two Oregon community-initiated projects included in the Senate Homeland Security spending bill:

$1.087 million for the City of Warrenton to help with its Iredale Tide Gate and Culvert Replacement project, which would replace a critical piece of stormwater conveyance infrastructure that has collapsed. Because of the collapsed culvert and tide gate, high tide events result in standing water on city streets and closure of  State Highway 101 in this portion of Clatsop County. A total failure of the system would result in large-scale flooding and severe damage to local homes and businesses. Funding for the project would help mitigate against the effects of flooding and other natural disasters by making Warrenton’s critical infrastructure more resilient.

$1 million for the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council to construct the Central Oregon, Ready, Responsive, Resilient (CORE3) project. CORE3 will be Central Oregon’s dedicated multi-agency emergency coordination and operations center for local, state, and federal public safety agencies near the Redmond Airport. The location is designated as the primary hub for the Pacific Northwest in the event of a major Cascadia earthquake, but CORE3 currently lacks a physical operations center. The funding will help realize the center, which will be used for a variety of public safety and training needs in a fast-growing region that is facing increased disaster threats, including devastating wildfires. Groundbreaking for the new hub is expected in 2025.

“We’re very grateful for the hard work Sen. Merkley’s office has put in to advance this funding,” said Mayor Henry A. Balensifer III, City of Warrenton. “This project will significantly improve drainage in flood prone areas in our Hammond district and replace failing infrastructure. This will also advance our aims to improve that district into the Gem of the Pacific.”

“On behalf of COIC and our CORE3 partners, we are grateful to Senators Merkley and Wyden for recognizing the CORE3 project,” said Tammy Baney, COIC Executive Director. “The Pacific Northwest, State of Oregon, and Central Oregon are facing growing threats from natural disasters. There is an immediate need to have a dedicated coordination center and collaborative training facility to support our local, state and federal public safety and emergency management personnel; in addition to saving valuable time and money with the ability to receive word class training without the need to travel out of the area. This financial support will go directly to building the infrastructure needed to bring this critical facility to life.”

Now that the Homeland Security bill has cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee, it next heads to the Senate floor for a full vote before it can be conferenced with its counterpart bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The final, merged legislation must then be passed by both chambers before it is signed into law.