(Washington, D.C) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $2.9 million in funding for transportation and community development projects for the Tri-Cities in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. Senator Murray is the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee.
Among the projects funded in the bill is the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center (The Reach) which will provide a focal point to showcase the area's rich environment and history. The Reach will act as a gateway to the Hanford Reach National Monument. The bill includes $1 million for the project that will be used for Phase I construction. Funds will be used for transportation infrastructure at the site as well as restoration and trail work.
I am pleased to have included this critical funding for the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center," Murray stated. "The Reach will be a nationally significant interpretive center that highlights the tremendous environmental and cultural heritage of the Tri-Cities. Not only will this project be a huge benefit to the local economy, it will also be a catalyst for educational opportunities statewide."
Ron Hicks, Executive Director of The Reach applauded Murray's efforts:
"We are excited about the $1M appropriated by Senator Murray. It will help the Tri-Cities fulfill their goal of building a cultural center to help educate thousands of school children in math and science, showcase the Hanford Reach National Monument, and serve as a tourist attraction for the mid-Columbia region."
Senator Murray has previously provided nearly $6 million for the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.
Other important projects funded by Senator Murray in the Tri-Cities Include:
Port of Pasco: $900,000
This funding for the Port of Pasco will be used for the Big Pasco Industrial Center Intermodal Rail Hub Development Project. The loss of barge service in Portland has forced the Port of Pasco to transform its freight center away from barge service and expand their rail and truck infrastructure. This project will install 3,400 feet of new rail and rehabilitate 18,500 feet of existing rail to handle the current and expected volumes of intermodal and mixed-source freight coming to the Port of Pasco. This funding will complete Phase 4 of the project.
Benton Franklin Transit (BFT): $1 million
Senator Murray has included $1 million for the BFT Vehicle Fleet Expansion and Modernization Project. Many of the vehicles in the current fleet at BFT have gone beyond their FTA-rated life and are adding operating costs due to increased maintenance needs. Safety concerns are also starting to arise with some of the vehicles. BFT is the sole provider of public transportation in the Tri-Cities and mid-Columbia region and has experienced ridership growth of 10 percent since 2006.
The THUD Appropriations bill passed the full Appropriations Committee today and will move on to the Senate floor for consideration.