President Biden to speak on ‘resilient track’ at PDX, White House says

The President will highlight the PDX project which received $3.75 million in federal funding

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – New details are emerging about President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the Pacific Northwest, which will include a stopover at Portland International Airport on Thursday afternoon to promote investment in aging infrastructure of the region.

The president is expected to deliver a speech around 2 p.m. at Portland Air National Guard Base. According to the White House, his speech will highlight the $1 trillion infrastructure plan he signed into law on Nov. 15 and how it fits into an ongoing project at PDX to ensure tracks can survive. to earthquakes.

This project received $3.75 million in federal funds and was announced March 21 by U.S. Senators from Oregon, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District. .

“He was struck by the investment in the resilient track and thinks it’s a great example of the kinds of projects we’ll see through the bipartisan infrastructure act, so he wants to see it up close and in person,” Chris Meagher, deputy press secretary for the White House, told KOIN 6 News. “He knows that Portland is susceptible to weather like you are right now, but also to earthquakes, and it’s important that our country’s infrastructure is able to withstand weather events.”

According to Meagher, Biden could tackle high-speed internet and rid the country of its lead pipes. After the speech at PDX, he’s set to meet donors and supporters at the Portland Yacht Club, as Willamette Week first reported.

The president’s infrastructure-focused trip comes about a week after U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) visited the Interstate 5 bridge connecting Washington and Oregon to talk about her replacement project.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle of Vancouver and a representative from the I-5 Bridge Replacement Program joined the senator on April 13 to discuss the possibility of using federal infrastructure program funds.

The bridge, which is a critical point along a major shipping corridor and connects Portland to Vancouver, is over 100 years old. According to KOIN 6 News partner The Portland Tribune, it sits on old wooden piles underwater, making it susceptible to collapse or heavy damage in an earthquake.

Although Oregon and Washington currently share the cost of maintaining the bridge – estimated at around $1.2 million a year – details of how its replacement will be funded are up in the air and the source of some dissent among local leaders.

While the president has previously highlighted the I-5 bridge in promoting the infrastructure act, it’s unclear whether he plans to speak about the project on Thursday. He is to meet Wyden and Governor Kate Brown.

The visit will also be the first time in nearly seven years that a sitting US president has visited Portland – when then-President Barack Obama appeared at a Nike event.

The last time Biden was in Oregon was for a fundraiser during the 2020 presidential campaign. In 2014, when he was vice president under Obama, he made an impromptu visit to the Salt and Native Straw in Northeast Portland. Shelley Larkins remembers the motorcade closing down Alberta Street.

“He created a lot of traffic, but it was worth knowing he was in our neighborhood,” she said.

The Portland Police Department told KOIN 6 News it was unsure which roads, if any, would be affected by Biden’s visit, but motorcades “traveled quickly and interruptions were brief.”

His visit will delay some flights at PDX as the Federal Aviation Administration puts in place a temporary restriction notice from noon to 5:30 p.m. for non-commercial aircraft.

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