Purpose of State of System

The State of the System report provides key information about how Oregon’s transportation system is performing in relation to the seven goals of the Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP). The report aims to increase awareness of the state’s transportation assets, as well as the trends and challenges affecting these assets. The report provides a snapshot of Oregon’s transportation system with emphasis on the portion managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

ODOT's Role

ODOT, known until 1969 as the State Highway Department, began in 1913. In 1919, Oregon became the first state to enact a tax on fuel to fund road building, so the agency could “Get Oregon out of the mud.” Today the agency is organized to better provide an integrated intermodal system, balancing the needs of all users. ODOT’s mission “provides a safe and reliable multimodal transportation system that connects people and helps Oregon’s communities and economy thrive.” That mission encompasses transportation planning, developing, managing and maintaining the state highway system, transportation safety, rail safety, licensing and regulation of drivers, motor vehicles and motor carriers, assistance to public transportation providers, passenger rail, active transportation, and more.

Local governments, other state agencies, and other public and private transportation providers have an equally important role in Oregon’s transportation system through the development and management of county roads and city streets, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, public transportation facilities and services, airports, rail and port infrastructure, forest service roads, and other services.

Workforce Mix

ODOT’s mission “provides a safe and reliable multimodal transportation system that connects people and helps Oregon’s communities and economy thrive.”

Trends Affecting Oregon and its Transportation System

A number of trends and issues impact state, county, city, and other transportation agencies across Oregon. Some of these are long-term trends introduced in earlier editions of the State of the System report, while others are emerging issues impacting transportation in Oregon.

Economic Trends

The Oregon economy is currently strong. The state has been adding jobs faster than the U.S. average since 2013. The unemployment rate is at record lows as well. Average wages are on the rise due to the strong job growth, tight labor market, and low inflation. Oregon’s export dependent economy fluctuates with business cycles, but an agile economy relies on an efficient and reliable transportation system to support quick recovery and avoid permanent losses in employment and revenue. This is key for export industries of computer and electronic products, agricultural products, timber, machinery, chemicals and transportation equipment. While Oregon’s economy continues to grow, the forecast rate of growth is expected to slow to more sustainable rates.

Aging Infrastructure

Oregon’s transportation infrastructure is aging and becoming more expensive to maintain, preserve, and expand. Over half of state highway bridges were built before 1970. Currently pavement condition is considered to be fair or better, but by 2036 nearly half of the state highway pavement is forecast to be in poor condition. Increased maintenance and preservation investments are necessary to keep older facilities safe and operational. Oregon must shift an increasing share of resources to maintenance and preservation to keep facilities working and avoid more costly reconstruction later on.

Aging Population

Current research indicates older adults are choosing to age in place. This indicates there will be an expanding need for transportation options for older adults. While many older adults will continue to drive, research suggests many will rely on new ways to travel, such as public transit, walking, bicycling, ride sharing, and other transportation options.

Increasing Population

Oregon’s population growth remained positive since the Great Recession, but annual growth rates were below one percent until year 2014. Population reached the 4 million mark in 2015, followed by growth in 2016 and 2017 that was the tenth highest growth rate in the nation. Most of the upswing in population growth comes from in-migration; by 2026 nearly all population growth in Oregon will come from net migration.

Vehicle Miles Traveled

The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is one measure of demand on the transportation system. VMT has been increasing steadily since 2013 as Oregon recovered from the most recent recession. However, recent data indicates the rate of vehicle miles traveled growth has been stabilizing across all modes. As Oregon continues to grow in population, travel is not expected to grow as fast. The in-migration population is attracted to the urban areas, with access to regional amenities near their home and desirable jobs within commute distances. Thus, growth in auto miles of travel is expected to be modest. Mid to heavy truck miles of travel are expected to increase to accommodate the growing population, but follow a steady growth pattern over time.

Oregon Transportation Plan

The Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP) is the state’s long-range multimodal transportation plan. The OTP considers all modes and jurisdictions of Oregon’s transportation system as one integrated system and addresses the needs of transportation in Oregon through 2030. The seven goals, policies, and strategies guide the actions, investments, and key decisions of state and local agencies.

Mode & Topic Plans

The mode and topic plans cover goals and policies for specific transportation modes and topics. These plans serve as elements of the OTP and help to achieve its goals. The plans address policy areas and issues to support decision making, strategic investments, and project prioritization that help deliver an interconnected, efficient, and safe transportation system. The plans guide the state through efforts such as prioritizing projects, developing design guidance, collecting data, and other activities that support a complete multimodal transportation system. The mode and topic plans include:

  • Oregon Aviation System Plan
  • Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
  • Oregon Freight Plan
  • Oregon Highway Plan
  • Oregon Public Transportation Plan
  • Oregon Rail Plan
  • Oregon Transportation Options Plan
  • Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan

The Oregon Transportation Commission has adopted and amended a number of these plans to address changes in the trends impacting the transportation system. The new Oregon Public Transportation Plan was adopted in September 2018. The OTP, Oregon Highway Plan and Oregon Freight Plan were amended to remain compliant with the new Federal planning requirements. The OTP was also amended to incorporate policy regarding the Statewide Transportation Strategy: A 2050 Vision for Greenhouse Gas Reduction. ODOT and the OTC will continue to update these plans as needed to stay current with the issues affecting the system and to provide the best transportation system possible for Oregon.

The Seven OTP Goals

Goal 1 – Mobility and Accessibility: Providing an integrated multimodal transportation system that ensures the ability to move into, out of, and throughout the state with connections between modes of transportation.

Goal 2 – Management of the System: Managing transportation infrastructure and its operation efficiently.

Goal 3 – Economic Vitality: Promoting Oregon’s economy through an efficient and effective transportation system.

Goal 4 – Sustainability: Providing a transportation system that balances environmental, economic, and community objectives now and in the future.

Goal 5 – Safety and Security: Protecting Oregonians and the system from natural and manmade hazards.

Goal 6 – Funding the Transportation System: Striving toward a flexible funding structure that meets needs.

Goal 7 – Coordination, Communication, and Cooperation: Working effectively with all parties.

To learn more about the OTP, as well as the supporting policies and strategies, please refer to the OTP website:

Cape Creek Bridge and Tunnel which opened in 1932.