(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Earlier today the House Appropriations Committee marked up its Transportation spending bill for Fiscal Year 2004. The Committee added $15 million for Sound Transit.

Sen. Murray released the following statement.

“The House Appropriations Committee today added $15 million to its 2004 spending bill for Sound Transit. This is a positive development and shows that House leaders are coming around to the same conclusion that I and President Bush have reached – that this project will help solve the region’s transportation mess and is “highly recommended” for federal transportation dollars.

It is disappointing that members of Washington’s congressional delegation have suddenly developed concerns with a project that delivers such obvious benefit. It is surprising that they would seek to undermine federal transportation funding – and thousands of good-paying jobs – from coming to our state.

At a time of high unemployment and an undeniable transportation crisis, members now have the opportunity to make progress towards solving the problem. Sadly, some have trotted out the misplaced notion that the issue is transit versus roads. These critics couldn’t be more wrong. In truth, the answer to our transportation problems lies in both transit and roads, which is why I have long advocated for both.

By seeking to deny Sound Transit federal funding, they will either increase the burden on local taxpayers or further delay a common-sense solution to the Puget Sound’s transportation crisis. How much worse does traffic have to get in Puget Sound before they will support federal funding to help us out?

If they would prefer federal transportation dollars to flow to McLean, Virginia or Dallas, Texas, that is certainly their prerogative. But they should be honest with all of the state’s citizens about the consequences of their obstruction.

I will continue to use my position to stand up for my state and to secure the infrastructure improvements that put people back to work and improve our economy.”