(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included millions in funding for community supported projects in the Tri-Cities in critical yearly spending legislation. The funding is included in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for most federal government programs and targeted community projects for Fiscal Year 2009. The Omnibus bill is separate from the Economic Recovery bill passed by Congress and enacted by Barack Obama last week. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray helped to include millions for important projects and programs in the Tri-Cities in the Omnibus bill.
"We are investing in Main Street again," said Senator Murray. "In the face of a deepening recession, this bill puts federal funding back into our communities where it can create jobs and address local needs. This funding will help put residents back to work, improve public transit services, bolster tourism and address health care needs in the Tri-Cities. I'm proud to work to return Tri-Cities residents' tax dollars to projects in their own backyard."
The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009. The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled today and is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks.
The following projects were included in the bill in the Tri-Cities region:
Steptoe Street Extension Project, City of Richland and Kennewick: $2,185,000
Steptoe Street is on the border between Kennewick and Richland. The extension will serve as a key transportation link for communities in both cities. When it is completed, it will provide an essential transportation corridor between 10th Avenue and Gage Boulevard and will also provide a vital connection between I-82 and SR 240. The project is a vital component to local economic diversification efforts and new job creation in the area.
"This project is the most regionally significant project for Kennewick, Richland and the surrounding areas," said Kennewick Mayor James R. Beaver. "No other project is currently planned that has the potential for economic stimulus and improved mobility as the extension of Steptoe Street. It will stimulate the creation of thousands of jobs and ultimately benefit, not just Kennewick and Richland, but all of southeastern Washington."
Maintenance Facility Construction, Benton/Franklin Counties: $1,757,500
The expansion of the maintenance building will give Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) six additional working bays. These bays will be designed for the smaller vehicles in the BFT fleet. This ability to separate between the larger buses and smaller vehicles will give BFT additional efficiencies in the use of the building.
“The completion of the facility project is absolutely necessary in order for Ben Franklin Transit to be able to provide public transportation services as efficiently and effectively as possible," said Tim Fredrickson, General Manager, Ben Franklin Transit. "It should be understood by all of the people that benefit from public transportation in the Mid-Columbia region and the Tri-Cities that Senator Murray’s help in this endeavor is greatly appreciated.”
B-Reactor Access Road Analysis Project, Hanford Site: $190,000
This funding will begin the process of designing a public access road from Highway 240 at Vernita to B-Reactor, the world’s first nuclear reactor. A public access road will greatly increase the tours and visitors to B-Reactor which will be an economic benefit to the Tri-Cities and Benton County.
Kadlec Medical Center: $809,000
This funding will go to expand the new pediatric center at Kadlec Medical Center (KMC) in Richland. The funding will will go to construction and equipment to support the expansion of the new pediatric center. Kadlec Medical Center is in the process of completing an expansion project. KMC plans call for the development of a Pediatric Program consisting of 20 pediatric beds in private rooms and a 20 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
This project will have a significant economic impact on the Tri-Cities community. With recent growth at Kadlec Medical Center, the number of employees has risen from 719 in 1999 to over 1450 currently. As a result of added beds in the new building and new and improved services, it is projected there will be an additional 400 employees by 2010.
"This funding is another step forward in building a state-of-the-art pediatric center to serve the Tri-Cities community," said Senator Murray. "The Volpentest Pediatric Institute will address the growing health care needs of a growing region. It will also provide an economic stimulus in the form of close to 400 new family wage jobs."
"This is a wonderful way to recognize Sam Volpentest for all his economic development efforts," said Rand Wortman, CEO, Kadlec Health System. "It is particularly fitting because it will contribute to economic development by enhancing growth of medical care in the Tri-Cities. The Volpentest Pediatric Institute will provide a higher level of care and help keep families close to home during time of greatest need."