News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced critical federal funding for Eastern Washington and Spokane priorities in the fiscal year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill. 

Due to the threat of Presidential vetoes of America’s domestic spending priorities, Congress combined several appropriations bills into one large “Omnibus bill,” which should pass both houses this week.  The Omnibus package contains critical funding for national needs like transportation, homeland security, education, labor and health.

"This federal support is the seed money that helps our communities grow," said Senator Murray. "I am proud to have helped steer this funding to community-supported projects here at home.  I work everyday to ensure that even though our state's residents are 2,500 miles from D.C., their needs are up-front and center. At a time when domestic and local needs are too often being neglected, these worthy projects are getting the support they deserve."

This spending bill is expected to be cleared by the U.S. House of Representatives tonight and sent to the Senate tomorrow.

Below are the projects included for the Eastern Washington. They are separated by project type:

Transportation Projects

Pullman Transit Maintenance Facility expansion -- $784,000
This funding will help remodel the original 1982 facility, which Pullman Transit has since outgrown.  The updated facility will have two additional bays that have the capacity to accommodate 40-foot buses and large fire trucks.  To date, Pullman Transit has been unable to purchase any bus longer than 35-feet as they are unable to perform maintenance on them in the current facility.  This funding will complete the expansion and remodel.

Northeast Community Center Construction Project (Spokane) -- $490,000
This funding will support the Northeast Community Organization’s efforts to expand the Northeast Community Center to allow for expanded services.  Specifically, the funding will help complete the first phase of the neighborhood resource expansion project.  The Center offers a range of services, including: Headstart; a senior center; adult education and language courses; a supplemental food program for pregnant women, infants, and children; among others.

YMCA/YWCA of Spokane Facility Construction Project -- $490,000

This funding will assist in the construction of a YMCA and YWCA co-location that will provide valuable services such as a childcare center, workforce readiness classrooms, domestic violence victim services, and programs for at-risk and homeless children and parents.  The area where this facility will be built is very low-income, and the YMCA/YWCA will be critical in providing services and training that will improve the economic abilities of the residents it will serve.

Inland Pacific Hub Analysis Project -- $240,100
Washington State is expected to accommodate an increased amount of international freight in the coming years.  This project will determine the economic impact and job creation potential of developing an inland port.  The analysis will assess the ability of Spokane to develop an intelligent transportation hub that would attract more global commerce in the region.  It will also create a plan to coordinate with regional partners.

Spokane Transit Smart Bus Technology Modernization -- $686,000
This funding will allow the Spokane Transit Authority to purchase and install new electronic and data systems technology, known as Smart Bus, into their existing buses.  This technology will improve vehicle life, lower maintenance costs, provide ADA enhancements, and increase overall dependability and efficiency of the bus system.  The Smart Bus technology will help to increase ridership and provide a safer transportation alternative for the Spokane area.

Freight Transportation Policy Institute, Washington State University -- $432,180
The Freight Transportation Policy Institute will research freight transportation and how improvements to freight mobility positively affect domestic and global competition, trade, and economic development.  Other factors that will be analyzed are employment and job growth, and energy and environmental considerations.  This funding will allow for a coordinated, streamlined research effort of freight transportation policy.

Post Street Centennial Trail and Utility Bridge -- $1,372,000
This funding will enable the city of Spokane to reconstruct the Post Street bridge, which provides a pedestrian connection between downtown Spokane and the University District redevelopment, and carries the city’s main sewer line, which also serves the City of Spokane Valley.  The city has already secured $5 million for design and construction and this funding will complete the project.

Columbia County Public Transportation Vehicle Replacement -- $82,320
The Columbia County Public Transportation Vehicle Replacement Project will replace two older minibuses that provide critical regional rural bus services.  These buses meet the rural mobility needs of elderly persons and people with disabilities.  This project will allow continued service benefiting residents from Dayton, Waitsburg and Prescott traveling to Walla Walla.  The buses connect people to the nearest town with major services including hospitals and transportation links.

Tonasket Community Center Project -- $196,000
The Tonasket Community Center is in dire need of renovations to make the building a safe gathering place for the rural, low-income city of Tonasket.  This funding will help the Community Center maintain and expand its current services, including serving as an art and education center, a social gathering place, and an arena for economic development through the community certified kitchen.  This funding will complete basic renovations, such as roof repairs, insulation for the walls and ceiling, and electrical system upgrades to bring the building into compliance with building codes.

Health Care Projects

Washington State University's Intercollegiate College of Nursing --  $1,288,097
This funding will help complete research laboratories and purchase research, instruction, and communication equipment at the WSU Spokane Riverpoint campus.

Providence Telehealth Network Rural Outreach Program -- $238,755
This funding will be used for telehealth equipment at three rural hospitals located in Deer Park, Colville (Mt. Carmel), and Chewelah (St. Joseph). The telehealth equipment will link the hospitals with Holy Family Hospital in Spokane.

Education Projects

WSU Center for Women in Science and Engineering --$335,043
This funding will help fund the WSU Mentorship Program for Women in the Pure and Applied Sciences in Pullman. This funding will help establish WSU's Center for the Recruitment, Promotion, and Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering. The center will also encourage women to participate in the sciences and provide female science faculty with support in their programs.

Agriculture Projects

Wine Grape Foundation Block -- $237,327
It is critical that vineyards are virus free for national and international markets.  This research will reduce the likelihood of virus transmission within the industry.

Asparagus Technology and Production -- $183,705
Half of the current asparagus production costs are composed of labor costs associated with the harvesting of the product.  These funds will ensure research and development of technologies to reduce the cost of asparagus production.

Organic Cropping (WA) -- $264,138
There is a rising demand for organic products, but foreign competitors with lower labor costs are putting organic producers at risk.  This funding will provide research, development and dissemination of organic best management practices in the Northwest and other steps to retain the U.S. competitive advantage in this marketplace.

Competitiveness of Agriculture Products -- $500,472

Agriculture is increasingly dependent on global markets, and improving the competitiveness of U.S. exports in the global marketplace is important to the long-term health of the agricultural sector.  This research will help better understand the changing global agricultural trade environment.

Aegilops Cylindrica/Biomass (WA, ID) -- $261,159
Aegilops cylindrical is a grassy plant with potential as an alternative crop and a suitable fuel feedstock for biomass production, and this funding will develop the potential of this feedstock which would require low inputs, to be efficient in water usage, and be resistant to pests and disease.

Potato Research -- $1,104,216
This research focuses on the development of new potato varieties with better disease resistance, enhanced nutrition, higher yields, and other improvements. 

PM(10) Study (WA) -- $284,991
Air quality impairments related to agriculture can result in health risks for individuals and economic hardships for producers.  This funding will help develop farming systems to reduce the threat of these particles.

Cool Season Legume Research (ID, WA, ND) -- $416,067
This research project focuses on the genetic identification of superior characteristics in legumes; nematode, insect, and disease management; soil erosion and water quality; and market and product development. 

Grass Seed Cropping for a Sustainable Agriculture -- $332,655
The grass seed industry is based in rural communities and contributes to the economic well being of these communities, but the industry is facing some critical environmental and economic challenges, including: public pressure to phase out open-field burning; and alleviation of smoke, dust, and chemical trespass from crop production areas.  This research will develop new grass seed cropping systems that meet environmental regulations and are economically viable for farmers.

Perennial Wheat -- $104,265

This funding will go toward research grants for Perennial wheat which offers a viable option for sustainable farming systems and improved environmental stewardship. Perennial wheat provides constant soil coverage by plant material, resistance to pests and diseases, and a source of straw for new fiber products such as straw board. In addition, perennial wheat can help improve habitat for wildlife, especially waterfowl.

Food Safety and Security -- $293,928
This funding will toward research grants to increase Washington State University's capacity to conduct research in the creation of value-added foods, fibers, and other bioproducts, while maintaining safety and security.

Solutions for Environmental and Economic Problems (STEEP) -- $463,608
This funding will increase the research and information transfer activities of STEEP in order to reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality, and enhance the adoption of direct seeding technology. Two million acres of cropland in the Pacific Northwest are subject to substantial erosion. It is estimated that soil erosion can be reduced on these acres from an average of 12 tons per acre per year to 2 tons per acre per year. Cleaner water and air would result in substantial benefits to stream and groundwater quality, regional air quality, and salmon habitat.

Regional Barley Gene Mapping Project (OR) -- $502,458
This funding will help enhance the profitability and sustainability of U.S. barley production by achieving a complete understanding of the gene networks that determine economically important traits. Federal investment in this barley research project is needed to keep barley a crop option for growers. The research for this project will take place in Oregon but will benefit Eastern Washington Wheat growers.

Energy and Water Projects

Electric Utility Transmission and Distribution Line Engineering Program, Gonzaga University – $787,200
Gonzaga University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is establishing a new Electric Utility Transmission and Distribution Line Engineering Program, which will offer a multi-disciplined certificate program for working professionals in engineering.  This funding will be used for curriculum design and transition to an online format, renovation of laboratory space, and the purchase of necessary equipment.  It will help provide Washington state and the nation with qualified electrical and power engineers, and solidify Washington state’s role in the energy economy of the future.