(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced critical federal funding for Pierce County and Tacoma 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 Pierce County. They are separated by project type:

Transportation Projects

Tacoma Lincoln Avenue Separation  -- $1,029,000

This project will help eliminate Lincoln Avenue truck and rail congestion by raising Lincoln Avenue over key railroad tracks used for rail operations within the Port area. This corridor is critical to the operations of the Port of Tacoma, as it represents 1 of 2 entrances to the Port from I-5. Currently, lengthy delays are being experienced at the corridor by both trucks and trains. These delays have become a major source of concern for the Port’s customers.

Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Track Upgrades -- $754,600
This project is necessary to meet an expanding freight business need which exists on the 131-mile Mountain Division Rail Line.  The funding will be used for both track upgrades and signal improvements.  Tacoma Rail not only serves a variety of commercial businesses, but also serves as a back up to Fort Lewis Army Base and McChord Air Force Base.

Port of Tacoma Interchange Improvement -- $980,000
The Port of Tacoma Interchange Improvement project will provide road and interchange improvements at the intersection of Interstate 5, Pacific Highway East, and Port of Tacoma Road.  Funding will be used for enhancement work that will enable improved access and alleviate existing congestion for trucks traveling to and from the Port of Tacoma.

YMCA of Tacoma Pierce County for Facility Improvements -- $245,000

The YMCA of Tacoma-Pierce County serves more than 51,000 people throughout the region every year.  The funding provided by Senator Murray will assist with the construction of a new YMCA facility in Gig Harbor north of Highway 16.

Mobile Object Technology (Topia Ventures in Tacoma) -- $2,016,840
The funding secured by Senator Murray will help further a pilot project that illustrates how Topia Mobile Object technology, Kolona, operates in complex network environments like the National Air Space System (NAS) and System Wide Information Management (SWIM). Kolona enables different aviation systems to interact effectively to avoid a system failure or any delay of the information available to pilots and air traffic controllers. Senator Murray has previously secured $7.75 million for this project.

Pierce Transit Peninsula Park and Ride -- $1,029,000
This funding will support efforts by Pierce Transit to develop a new Park and Ride facility in Gig Harbor. The Peninsula Park and Ride is being designed to support the increased transit and vanpool ridership expected with the opening of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

University Place Intermodal Transit Facility -- $735,000
This funding will go toward building a new regional transit facility that will relieve congestion, improve freight mobility, and enhance interconnectivity between University Place, Lakewood, downtown Tacoma, Tacoma Community College, and a future light rail station. The Intermodal Transit Facility is a key component of the City of University Place’s “Uptown Center”, a mixed-use development that will include retail, office, housing, and public space. The transit facility will allow the development to be transit friendly. Funding will go toward construction of a new parking garage.

Salishan HOPE VI Redevelopment Project -- $1,470,000
This funding will go toward Salishan HOPE VI project - the Tacoma Housing Authority's largest public housing development. The development is currently undergoing a large scale revitalization.  Senator Murray has helped to provide significant funding for this project in previous years.

Commerce and Justice Projects

Pierce County Emergency Response Communication System – $681,500
The funding will go to Pierce County, Tacoma, and Puyallup to extend the communications system to smaller communities and fix gaps in the system.  It eventually will allow Pierce County to communicate seamlessly with King and Snohomish counties in the event of a natural disaster, terrorist event, or other emergency. 

National Methamphetamine Training and Technical Assistance Center (NMTTAC) – $714,400
This project would make Tacoma and Pierce County the home to the principal, national meth resource center for the nation.  It would provide training, education, prevention, and treatment resources all in one facility.

Energy and Water Projects

304th Street Landfill Conversion – $3,739,200
The 304th Street Landfill produces gas emissions that are currently wasted and burned by flare.  Under this new effort, the landfill gas would be converted into biomethane, a clean fuel that would then be used to power trash-hauling trucks, county buses, and other fleet vehicles.  The effort would turn a waste product into a productive transportation fuel that would reduce the need for foreign oil while producing fewer greenhouse gases in the vehicles it powers.

Mud Mountain Dam Construction – $2,340,000
These funds will be used to replace the 100-year old diversion dam on the White River, and will enable the Corps to meet ongoing fish passage needs.  The money will also be used for operations of the current facility.

Homeland Security Projects

Port of Tacoma Intermodal Test Center – $5,500,000
This center will pioneer radiation screening technology that will be used on rail cars that deliver goods throughout our state and country. It will help the test center lead the way for ports across the nation, safeguard our communities, and ensure that our state's trade-based economy is protected.  The center was established as part of Senator Murray’s landmark SAFE Port Act, which was signed into law last year.  The SAFE Port Act also raises security standards for all cargo entering the U.S., creates a streamlined system to track and monitor cargo, creates a system to resume trade after an incident, and authorizes port security grants. 

Education Projects

Child Care Resource and Referral Network -- $861,679
The Child Care Resource and Referral Network evaluates and publicizes information about the quality of child care and early learning opportunities across the state, giving parents the necessary information to make educated decisions about their child care needs.  Additionally, they provide incentives for child care facilities to serve low-income families, and they provide assistance to improve the quality of care and learning opportunities for children. 

Agriculture/Nutrition Projects

Diabetes Detection and Prevention -- $806,316
This funding will go to WSU Puyallup in order to aid research to help people increase people’s confidence to manage their diabetes. Over 2500 people have been enrolled in a 5-lesson program that helps people with diabetes understand the need for regular medical care, physical activity and dietary management.  The program has had dramatic results. Without funding, the WSU Extension Diabetes Education Program cannot continue.

Interior Projects

Mount Rainer National Park Expansion – $1,181,180
This funding will allow the National Park Service to purchase approximately 200 additional acres to add to the Mount Rainier National Park. The area includes a mile of the Carbon River that flows from the glaciers of Mt. Rainier and the scenic Marsh Property. The Carbon River provides a habitat for salmon and steelhead, and other terrestrial species. Conservation of these properties will help link the surrounding wildlife corridors and protect the ecosystem health of the Carbon River Valley.