News Releases

Championed by Senators Murray and Cantwell, new federal award will support improvements to PCC Rail System, WA’s longest short-line freight rail system

Serving 5 Eastern Washington counties, rail system upgrades would improve reliability, reduce maintenance, and increase safety

Grant awarded through Department of Transportation’s BUILD program—formerly known as TIGER, created by Senator Murray in 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today announced a major new federal investment in the Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) Rail System. Awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER), the grant, totaling more than $5.6 million, was awarded to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Rural Rail Rehabilitation project, and will support critical improvements to key sections of the 298-mile rail system—including replacing or rehabilitating 10 bridges, replacing 4.6 miles of rail, and rehabilitating 20.8 miles of track.

“This major investment will help ensure Eastern Washington’s agricultural community has access to efficient and reliable transportation to our state’s ports and other markets, allowing them to remain competitive while also supporting local jobs and enhancing economic development in our rural communities,” said Senator Murray. “This is great news for Eastern Washington, and I will continue working in Congress to champion this investment program and make sure vital projects like improving the PCC rail system remain a top priority in the other Washington.”

“The repairs and upgrades funded by this grant will help Washington’s farmers get their world renowned products to global markets quickly and efficiently,” said Senator Cantwell.

“Agriculture is a vital economic driver in eastern Washington and a viable rail system to transport their products allows growers to remain competitive in the global marketplace. This federal investment supports the collaborative spirit we’ve developed that brings together farmers, shippers, communities, and the state to upgrade the state-owned short-line railroad and advance economic vitality in the region,” said WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar.

Senators Murray and Cantwell also announced today an additional multi-million dollar BUILD grant that will support a range of infrastructure improvements to Spokane’s Geiger Boulevard. More information on the federal award is available HERE.

BACKGROUND:

Serving Grant, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, and Whitman counties, the Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) Rail System is the longest short-line freight rail system in Washington State. Senators Murray and Cantwell both previously wrote letters to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the improvement project.

Senator Murray created the TIGER program in 2009 as a unique, cost-effective program to help state and local agencies tackle complex transportation challenges in their communities, while putting people to work and boosting regional economies. Since then, the program has awarded $5.6 billion to help facilitate 463 projects in every state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Of that total, Washington state has received $248 million to support 17 projects, including: the Barker Road grade separation in Spokane Valley, a new ferry terminal in Mukilteo, the North Spokane Corridor, the Mercer Corridor Redevelopment project in Seattle, the South Park Bridge Replacement in King County, the West Vancouver Freight Access project at the Port of Vancouver, improvements to I-5 to relieve congestion around Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and terminal modernization projects at the Ports of Seattle and Everett.