News Releases

Victory for Viaduct Funding

Jul 28 2005

Sens. Murray and Cantwell, and Reps. Larsen and McDermott succeed in securing $220 million to help rebuild structure in Surface Transportation Bill

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott today declared victory in their efforts to secure federal funding for replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall in Seattle. The delegation secured $220 million for the project in legislation reauthorizing surface transportation spending through 2009.

The legislation, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), sets the funding levels for highways, ferries, and transit programs for the next six years.

“Our delegation has done an incredible job of standing up for the Viaduct. While the Administration didn’t make investing in transportation a national priority, we stood together and convinced our colleagues of this critical safety and economic need,” Murray said. “The Viaduct plays a crucial role in the strength of our economy, the movement of our people and goods and the safety of our communities in the Puget Sound. We need to rebuild it, and we have come to this point from a realistic perspective of what the federal government can do with partnerships at the local level.”

"These federal funds will begin to pave the way to a safer viaduct and create more jobs for the Northwest. The viaduct serves as a critical artery for Northwest trade, which is the heart of the region's economy. By working together, the delegation was able to secure these funds for the first time since the earthquake, despite these tight fiscal times," Cantwell said.

"We needed a major federal commitment to help replace the ailing Viaduct, a critical link in the nation's transportation chain. People told us that in these lean budget years it could not be done. I guess you could say that we did the impossible. We helped create an account that had never existed, Projects of Regional and National Significance. Then we managed to dedicate a hundred million dollars to the Viaduct out of that new fund,” Larsen said.

“Today marks an historic step forward for Seattle and the Northwest. For over two years, we never wavered in our determination to get a significant federal funding commitment to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and we wouldn't take no for an answer. Today, we succeeded. We worked with the Republican majority and made the case that the Alaskan Way Viaduct is not a concrete highway, but an economic lifeline of national importance. It's a good day and we are much closer to the best day- when we stand together again to dedicate a new Alaskan Way Viaduct,” McDermott said.

The Nisqually earthquake battered the aging 2.2-mile Alaskan Way Viaduct, which carries over 100,000 vehicles each day and plays a major role in transportation and economic stability in the Puget Sound region. Murray, Cantwell, Larsen and McDermott have made its rebuilding a top transportation funding priority.

Last year the President proposed a $256 billion bill to reauthorize the 1998 surface transportation law. Despite veto threats from the Administration in February 2004, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a $318 billion, six-year transportation plan and the House passed a $284 billion bill. In March of this year the Administration warned Congress not to pass a reauthorization bill exceeding the $284 billion bill already passed by the House. The Senate version of the bill, passed this May, totaled $295 billion.

“At a time when congestion on our nation's highways is getting worse, and when our road, rail, airport and air traffic control infrastructure is deteriorating, the President's proposal effectively froze the transportation budget,” Murray said. “For those of us in the Puget Sound, this is about jobs, our economy and our productivity. I applaud my colleagues for working to make this investment in the Viaduct to both protect our residents and lay the foundation for future economic growth.”

"It's like winning the Tour de France. There were plenty of stages along the way, and the stakes were high. Today we came across the finish line wearing the leader's yellow jersey for the Viaduct," Larsen said. "As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have worked over the last few years to win support for Viaduct replacement from House transportation leaders. We showed them that the Washington delegation was standing together in this effort, and we showed them in person just how critical the situation was. Those efforts paid off."