News Releases

COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING: Murray Provision that Boosts Project's Chances for Federal Funding Included in Final Bill

Dec 09 2009

As Chairman of Transportation Appropriations Committee, Murray helps pass language in yearly spending bill that opens door to federal funding

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), announced that the critical provision she included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act that will significantly enhance the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project’s ability to secure substantial federal funding has been included in the final version of this bill. 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.

“This is a big step toward putting the Columbia River Crossing project in a good position to compete for federal funding,” said Senator Murray. “This provision will update the process the FTA uses to evaluate the benefits of innovative projects like the Columbia River Crossing. It will ensure that instead of using outdated, conventional methods to rate transit projects, the FTA takes into account all of the benefits this multi-modal project brings to the region’s commuters and economy.”

Senator Murray’s provision updates the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) evaluation process for multimodal projects like the CRC. The change would result in the substantial non-federal contributions to the CRC being considered part of the project’s application for a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) under the FTA’s New Starts program. The changes are needed to ensure that FTA evaluates the project in a fair and equitable way.

Currently, the FTA is considering the CRC project as separate highway and transit projects. This has meant that the majority of non-federal contributions for the project will not be considered, and that the rating for the overall project will be negatively impacted. The language Senator Murray has included in the bill that was passed through her Subcommittee today, will require the FTA to rate the CRC -and similar multimodal - projects as a single project. This will mean that the non-federal contributions to the project will be considered in FTA’s rating of the CRC’s finance plan under the New Starts program - significantly strengthening the CRC project’s ability to compete for a FFGA.

The language will also encourage communities to consider more comprehensive, multi-modal projects like CRC by ensuring FTA is using a method to rate projects that accounts for their unique transportation and environmental benefits.