News Releases

TRANSPORTATION/HOUSING: Murray Secures Critical Washington State Investments in Jobs, Infrastructure

Jun 03 2014

As Chair of critical THUD Subcommittee, Murray directs funds to WA projects in Seattle, Spokane, Pullman, Walla Walla, others

OIL TRAINS: After holding a hearing focused on oil train safety, Murray establishes new rail safety policies, sets Oct 1 deadline for final ruling on tank car designs from DOT, funds new safety institute for short line railroads  

Murray-authored bill includes safety measures for bicycles and pedestrians, planning support for states for global warming impacts on infrastructure

(Washington, D.C.)  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), secured critical federal funding for transportation projects and housing programs in Washington state in 2015.  The 2015 federal transportation and housing bill, which passed through the THUD Subcommittee today with bipartisan support, was made possible by the landmark budget deal that Senator Murray reached last December with U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that prevented a government shutdown and restored certainty to the federal budget process.  The bill will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

A list of selected projects and programs that benefit Washington state secured by Senator Murray is below:

Oil train-related safety measures:

  • An October 1, 2014 deadline for DOT to issue a final rule for new tank car design standards
  • Mandated comprehensive oil spill response plans for rail carriers
  • Funding for a new Short Line Railroad Safety Institute for safety training for short line railroads transporting crude and ethanol, which Senator Murray and her Republican counterpart, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), have called for.
  • 20 new hazardous materials and rail safety inspectors, as well as full funding for the 45 rail safety staff provided in 2014
  • $3 million to expand the use of automated track inspections to ensure proper track maintenance on crude oil routes, covering 14,000 miles of rack nationwide
  • A new, web-based hazardous materials emergency response training program to help tribes and local agencies prepare for potential rail accidents involving crude oil
  • Continued research into:
    • The volatility of Bakken crude oil (which is transported through Washington state)
    • Bulk tank car design standards for tank cars carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG)
    • Retrofitting existing tank cars to meet stronger new safety standards
    • Accident analysis and mitigation

Pullman/Walla Walla:

  • Changes to the federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) that could save the Pullman-Moscow and Walla Walla airports millions of dollars in infrastructure costs.
    • Despite serving communities in both Idaho and Washington state, the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is only eligible for federal infrastructure investments at a Washington state-specific rate of 90% of project costs, significantly lower than the Idaho-specific rate of 93.75%.  Senator Murray included a provision in today’s bill that will allow the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport to receive more federal funding, at a rate averaged between Washington state’s and Idaho’s.
    • The Pullman – Moscow Regional Airport is currently completing an Environmental Assessment for an approximately $80 million AIP project to ensure the airport’s sole runway meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards.  Under the Washington state-specific federal investment rate of 90%, local cost of this project would be approximately $8 million.  Under Senator Murray’s provision, however, the local cost of improvements would be reduced significantly and the community would receive additional federal funds for the project.
    • Under Senator Murray’s provision, the Walla Walla Regional Airport would also be eligible to receive higher rates of federal investment for infrastructure projects, because it serves communities in both Washington state and Oregon, which has the same 93.75% federal investment rate that Idaho does. 

Seattle/Puget Sound:

  • $89.7 million for the University Link light rail extension in Seattle (the final year of funding for the project)
  • Language that encourages the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration to work with states, like Washington, as they plan transportation systems to better withstand the impacts of global warming
  • Language that encourages the Federal Highway Administration to track bike and pedestrian incidents and accidents as part of its Highway Safety Improvement Program

Vancouver/Southwest Washington:

  • $38.7 million for the C-TRAN Fourth Plain Bus Rapid Transit in Vancouver

Spokane:

  • Changes the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), which Senator Murray created in 2012, to allow the Spokane Housing Authority to apply to extend the affordability of 50 units of elderly disabled housing for 40 years and replace 75 units of affordable housing with 225 new units.
    • Other Washington state housing authorities, including those in Tacoma, Walla Walla, and the City of Kelso, will also benefit.

Tri-Cities:

  • $5 million for the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence in Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment, co-led by Washington State University

Statewide funding and programs:

  • $597 million in highway formula funding for Washington state
  • $227 million in transit formula funding for Washington state
  • Language to improve working relationships between FAA field offices and aviation stakeholders, including WA-based airlines
  • Language urging the Federal Highway Administration to provide timely payments from the Emergency Relief program to communities affected by recent disasters like the landslide in Oso
  • Language that encourages the Federal Highway Administration to test regional approaches to innovative finance, like the one used by the West Coast Exchange (a partnership among Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia)
  • Language that encourages the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration to work with states, like Washington, as they plan transportation systems to better withstand the impacts of global warming
  • Language that encourages the Federal Highway Administration to track bike and pedestrian incidents and accidents as part of its Highway Safety Improvement Program