News Releases

Northwest Washington Transportation Projects Included in Final Spending Bill

Dec 09 2009

Funding for Whatcom Smart Trips, fleet replacement will create jobs, support growing regional transportation use, help grow regional economy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that funding she secured for Northwest Washington transportation projects has been included in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The final version of the spending bill came out of a conference committee between the Senate and the House and is expected to pass both bodies shortly before being sent to the President for his signature.

As Chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has fought to secure federal support for local Washington state projects that create jobs and invest in long-term growth.  

 “I am proud to support Northwest Washington priorities that help grow the regional economy and meet the rapidly growing demand for transit,” said Senator Patty Murray. “These investments in Northwest Washington transportation priorities will create jobs and help commuters, communities, and the economy."

Whatcom Smart Trips, Bellingham: $730,500
This funding will help to continue and expand the Whatcom Smart Trips program, which promotes various types of alternative transportation in the region.

This program is hoping to build upon its current work of promoting just under 1 million walking, bicycling, ridesharing and transit trips, and has set a goal of achieving an annual 8-12% reduction in drive-alone vehicle trips in Whatcom County.

“We have very high expectations for Whatcom Smart Trips,” said Jim Miller, Executive Director of the Whatcom Council of Governments.  “Speaking only in terms of roadway capacity, the value of an 8-12% reduction in vehicle trips is many millions of dollars.  The value of demonstrating this trip reduction approach for the rest of the country is all the more valuable, and the contribution to our environment is priceless.”

The following additional projects were included in the bill for Northwest Washington:

Whatcom Transportation Authority Fleet Replacement Project, Whatcom County: $974,000
This funding will assist in the acquisition of 10 bio-diesel buses to replace aging vehicles for the Whatcom Transportation Authority.

The acquisition of new, more fuel-efficient buses will allow the Whatcom Transit Authority to maintain its extensive transit services, which saw a 26% increase in ridership in 2008.  The new buses will also help to reduce carbon emissions and relieve the financial burden that WTA is currently facing from maintaining and fueling a rapidly aging fleet of buses. 

“WTA’s record-breaking ridership continues,” said Richard Walsh, General Manager of WTA.  “We saw a 26% increase in 2008, which amounts to 1 million additional one-way trips. While this is great news, the reliability of our service could soon be seriously compromised. WTA is in dire need of funding to replace our aging vehicles if we are to continue to meet this growing demand.”

Vehicle Research Institute – Advanced Materials Transit Vehicle Design, Western Washington University: $730,500
This funding will provide for the design, engineering and manufacturing of two prototype small-city transit buses at Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute in Bellingham, WA.

The development of small, carbon fiber, fuel-efficient, low-floor transit vehicles designed for small city service will significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs for smaller transit agencies throughout Washington State, allowing for the expansion of transit services and helping small communities to reduce their carbon footprint.

116th Street NE Interchange Improvements Project, Tulalip Tribes: $800,000
This funding will complete the final design, permitting and construction bid documents for the construction of an eight lane, widened bridge and expanded Interstate 5 on and off-ramps at the 116th Street exit in north Snohomish County.

This project will provide up to 200 regional jobs during the construction phase, and the increased mobility and safety enhancements will drive economic development in north Snohomish County.