By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
January 24, 2007
Sen. Rick Metsger, D-Welches, has been on a tour of the White House before — but never invited inside to a meeting.
On Feb. 9 he will arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to join the Transportation Legislative Leadership Summit.
“I don’t know yet who is going to be there,” said Metsger. “But I do know the focus will be about merging strategies to improve our national transportation systems’ performance and reliability.”
He figures the executive invitation was issued because of his experience in dealing with some of these issues. For the past eight years Metsger, whose District 26 encompasses Hood River County, has either served on or chaired the Senate Transportation Committee.
In 2003, he sponsored the Oregon Transportation Investment Act that set aside a historical $2.5 billion to replace/repair aging bridges. To date, about 200 of these structures have been upgraded to meet long-term commerce needs.
“It’s critical for our economic strength that people be able to get from here to there,” said Metsger.
He is optimistic the four-hour summit will lead to more federal dollars for state infrastructure projects. Currently, he said Oregon has eight “sites of significance” — such as the narrow Interstate 5 Bridge — that require an expensive fix.
“I’m hopeful this summit will be a starting point for ongoing discussions between state and national leaders about what can be done to better our transportation systems,” Metsger said.