Department of Transportation Records Guide
Agency History - 1969-present
In 1969 the Department of Motor Vehicles, State Highway Department including State Parks, the State Board of Aeronautics, State Ports Commission, and the newly created Mass Transit Division all came together to form the Oregon Department of Transportation (1969 Oregon Law, Chapter 599).
1970 marked some significant service changes by the new Department of Transportation. The first Spanish language driver manual and the first motorcycle driver manual were published. The first female driver examiners started work that year as well. A litter theme license plate debuted in 1970, reflecting the focus of then Governor Tom McCall.
By 1971 emission standards for aircraft were established (1971 Oregon Law, Chapter 452). 1971 was also the first year a driver’s license had a photograph depicting the license holder. The change was made to deter the unlawful duplication of Oregon driver’s licenses then prevalent.
The first increase in the drivers’ license fees since 1922 occurred in 1973 with fees doubling from one dollar to two dollars (1973 Oregon Law, Chapters 724 and 156). That year the State Highway Commission became the Oregon Transportation Commission with decision and policy-making authority and increased the number of commission members to five. The Legislative Assembly reorganized the administration of the Department of Transportation placing each division under the direction on an administrative head appointed by the Director of the Department of Transportation and requiring confirmation by the Oregon Transportation Commission (1973 Oregon Law, Chapter 249).
The Ports Division was moved in 1975 from ODOT to the Department of Economic Development by the Legislative Assembly (1975 Oregon Law, Chapter 371).
In 1976 the Mt. Hood Freeway Plan was withdrawn after heavy public opposition. ODOT also paired up with the Oregon State Police to provide motorists with a recorded phone message system to inform motorists of current road conditions.
A dealer investigation unit was created in 1977 under the Division of Motor Vehicles due to the dubious practices employed by some Oregon used car dealers. 1977 was also the year that construction began on the I-205 Interstate Bridge in Portland (now the Glen Jackson bridge).
The State Parks Department was removed from the Highway Division in 1979 and formally made it its own unit within ODOT.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 kept the Highway Division busy with ash removal for many months. 1980 was also the year that voters removed State Parks and State Police funding from the Highway Fund.
The 1981 Legislative Assembly focused on motor vehicle safety. That year laws providing for motorcycle education class funding and making driving under the influence of alcohol (DUII) a criminal act were passed (1981 Oregon Law, Chapters 473 and 803). The 1983 Legislative Assembly furthered the regulation of DUII when they reduced the blood alcohol level for legal intoxication from .10 to .08 percent.
In 1983 the state’s tourism promotion program was formally merged with other economic development efforts in the creation of the Tourism Division of the Oregon Economic Development Department (1983 Oregon Law, Chapter 324). This action removed tourism concerns from ODOT. 1983 also brought a reworking of the implied consent law to include additional sobriety tests and the inability to gain consent from an unconscious person (1983 Oregon Law, Chapter 822). 1983 was also the year mandatory child restraints are passed into law for all children weighing less than 40 pounds (1983 Oregon Law, Chapter 64).
New/non-traditional transportation forms were addressed by the 1985 Legislative Assembly. Ultra light aircraft registration was established (1985 Oregon Law, Chapter 346), and the use of railroad crossings by light rail (1985 Oregon Law, Chapter 678) were both addressed. In addition, the Legislative Assembly transferred the responsibility for regulating rail safety from the Public Utility Commission to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Initially, Rail Safety was housed in ODOT’s Transportation Development Branch.
Changes to the appearance of our skies and our communities occurred in 1987. ODOT’s Aeronautics Division was placed under the realm of the Oregon Transportation Commission (1987 Oregon Law, Chapter 105). 1987 was also the year the Highway Division was authorized to grant permits for community identification signs in Oregon (1987 Oregon Law, Chapter 631). Limousines were defined under statute and thus exempted from motor carrier status (1987 Oregon Law, Chapter 111). The Board of Pilot Commissioners was removed from the Department of Commerce and placed under the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The Legislative Assembly had a busy year for transportation issues in 1989. The use of seatbelts (Chapter 1074) and the definition of pilots (Chapter 102) were both approved that year. 1989 also marked the year that the money to train young drivers was shifted from the Division of Motor Vehicles to the Education Department (1989 Oregon Law, Chapter 100).
In 1991 the Legislative Assembly made a declaration about the importance of Highway 101 and called for a comprehensive management approach to the highway (1991 Oregon Law, Chapter 235).
1991 also marked the first mention of alternative fuels in Oregon statute as mass transit districts were instructed to use alternative fuels and an energy tax credit was established for fleet vehicles (1991 Oregon Law, Chapters 711 and 730). Responsibility for traffic safety is placed under ODOT with the establishing of the Transportation Safety Division using the Traffic Safety Commission as its core (1991 Oregon Law, Chapter 453).
1993 was the year State Highway 66 between Altamont and Ashland was declared a scenic highway (1993 Oregon Law, Chapter 306). The Oregon Trail commemorative license plate was also introduced in 1993 (1993 Oregon Law, Chapter 741) and the use of vehicle accident records for commercial purposes became a Class C misdemeanor (1993 Oregon Law, Chapter 37).
The regulation of seaplanes began in 1995. Seaplanes were now considered boats when on state waters and thus subject to Oregon boating regulations (1995 Oregon Law, Chapter 655). Speeding and reckless endangerment of highway workers in highway work zones became an offense (1995 Oregon Law, Chapter 253). Toll roads legislation was also modified in Chapter 668 to provide for private investment in road projects. Motor Carrier registrations became staggered for renewal dates (Chapter 39) and the regulation of railroads and motor carriers is moved from the Public Utilities Commission to the Oregon Department of Transportation (Chapter 733).
The issue of toll roads arose again (Chapter 390) due to an unnamed Portland area project that was to be within the urban growth boundary. The salmon license plates were introduced (1997 Oregon Law, Chapter 672). Definition and registration of street rods was added to Oregon Law (Chapter 402). State policy was established to encourage telecommuting to reduce the traffic congestion and its effects on Oregon (Chapter 311).
On November 1, 1998 the Oregon Department of Transportation established the Rail Division.
Oregon transportation law in 1999 underwent a number of changes. The year marked the establishment of the Oregon Department of Aviation (Chapter 935) as well as the creation of a Disaster Relief Account for the recovery of Highways (Chapter 1060). As a means of promoting safer highways, safety corridors were established and photo radar use was defined (Chapter 1071). A drug and alcohol testing program was also established per Federal law for all motor carriers in Oregon (Chapter 1099).
The 1999 Legislative Assembly also addressed the transportation infrastructure needs. A road modernization program was established and funded by road tolls (Chapter 1072). Individual minor aged motorist are now required to provide proof of enrollment in school when seeking a drivers' license (Chapter 789) and drivers’ license renewals were increased to eight-year intervals (Chapter 91).
The 2001 Legislative Assembly passed HB 2142 creating the Oregon Transportation Investment Act which provided 500 million dollars for state highway construction, renovation, and modernization projects. The Legislative Assembly created the Freight Advisory Committee to advise the Director of Transportation and the Oregon Transportation Commission on issues, policy, and procedure impacting multimodal freight mobility in Oregon (2001 Oregon Law, Chapter 240). In addition, ODOT is given the ability to enter into agreements with Native Nations to administer monies generated by use fuel tax (2001 Oregon Law, Chapter 305). ODOT is no longer allowed to establish pedestrian trails and bridle paths connecting streets, roads, and parks with the Pacific Ocean (2001 Oregon Law, Chapter 388). The Legislative Assembly mandated that ODOT provide State Highway funds in “reasonable” amounts to provide for footpaths and bike trails including curb cuts and ramps on state highway projects (2001 Oregon Law, Chapter 389). Maritime pilotage was amended to include assistance to vessels approaching and departing pilotage grounds and the communications associated with pilotage (Chapter 403). The Legislative Assembly directs ODOT to develop innovative financing to replace Oregon’s reliance upon gas tax revenue through the Road User Fee Task Force (O.L. 2001 ch.862).
The Oregon Transportation Investment Act III of 2003 passed the Legislative Assembly granting ODOT 2.5 billion dollars in bond issuance/sales to fund highway and bridge construction, repair, improvement, and modernization projects. The Oregon Innovative Partnership Program is created to facilitate public- private partnership transportation projects in Oregon (O.L. 2003 ch. 790). The State Transportation Enterprise Funs is established as a separate and distinct account not impacted by the General Fund account. Specific, continuously approved funds are placed into the fund to promote innovative partnerships and projects. In addition, ODOT gains the ability to request from the State Treasure the issuance of bonds to support projects which are part of the Oregon Innovative Partnership Program.
The Legislative Assembly established the Freight Advisory Committee in 2007 (O.L. 2007 ch. 366). Committee members are appointed by the director of ODOT and advise agency management on issues including development and implementation of policies and programs impacting intermodal freight mobility in Oregon and its impact upon ODOT operational plans including the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan. The Oregon Maritime Pilots Board moved from the Oregon Department of Transportation to the Oregon Public Utility Commission.