News Releases

Thank you, Jim. It’s great to be back in Walla Walla to celebrate our progress improving Highway 12 from Burbank to Walla Walla. By expanding the highway to four lanes, we’re going to improve safety and help the regional economy.

We all know the tragedies that this road has seen. Since 1991, this stretch of highway has had more than 900 accidents. Those accidents injured more than three hundred people and claimed 28 lives.

It’s easy to see why safety is such a concern here. First, Highway 12 is heavily traveled – handling up to 12,000 vehicles a day. Large trucks make up about 33 percent of that traffic and there’s really not enough room for all those vehicles to move safely. Second, there’s not enough space between the oncoming lanes of traffic. This project will create a significant median to separate the oncoming traffic. With the new median and additional lanes, we can expect to reduce serious crashes by 40 percent.

In addition to making the highway safer, we’re working to strengthen the regional economy – and we know it’s needed. Walla Walla’s per capita personal income is only 77 percent of the national average. We can do better, and this highway expansion will help.

It will create new construction jobs throughout the process. It will allow traffic to flow more smoothly – reducing the time and expense involved in moving people and products. That will make it more attractive to entrepreneurs who want to open businesses close to the roadway. And, it will help freight traffic move through the corridor more quickly. So by the time we’re done with this project, we’ll have a safer highway that serves as a catalyst for the local economy.

I want to commend all the partners who’ve come together to help us make progress – including:

•the U.S. Highway 12 Coalition Partners,
•our elected officials,
•the State of Washington,
•and our ports, cities and counties.

At the federal level, I’ve been proud to support this project from the start. Last year’s Omnibus Appropriations bill included $4.4 million for Phase II of the project. That will widen the highway between Dodd Road and Attalia. I’m going to continue to use my position as the Ranking Member on the transportation appropriations subcommittee to support this project.

Our state has shown its commitment to this project by including $36 million in the nickel transportation package. This project shows what we can do when we work together, and I’m proud to be your partner to improve safety and strengthen our economy.

Thank you.