CENTRAL WA: Senator Murray Secures Support for Job-Creating Projects in Central Washington

Jul 21 2010

As Chair of Key Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray Wins Support for Central WA Economic Priorities

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee announced that she has included funding to boost Central Washington transportation and economic development in the Fiscal Year 2011 THUD Appropriations bill.  The funding will create construction jobs that support community projects, make critical road safety improvements, and improve access to local transit. 

The key spending bill passed through the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee today, and will now move to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“Especially now, it is critical to steer funding into transportation projects that create jobs and boost local economies in our own backyard in Central Washington,” said Senator Murray. “This funding will go to support community projects like a community center in Buena and new buses in Chelan, and I’m committed to continue securing investments for these and other local needs.”

The following projects were included in the bill for the Central Washington region:

Port of Moses Lake Rail Infrastructure Construction - $2,000,000

Funding will support rail infrastructure investments at the Port of Moses Lake.

“This extension of rail will not only preserve approximately 75 existing jobs but will create approximately 200 new jobs in various manufacturing industries expressing an interest in relocating or expanding into the Moses Lake area.  This rail extension will ease some of the trucking transportation congestion now being experience on Interstate I-90,” said Michael B. Conley, President of the Board of Commissioners, Port of Moses Lake.

Ben Franklin Transit Vehicle Fleet Expansion and Modernization Project - $1,000,000

­Funding will go to Ben Franklin Transit to support the replacement of buses.

The current fleet has outlived their useful lifetime and new vehicles are needed to reduce maintenance costs, meet ADA guidelines, and be more sustainable from an operating standpoint because of the use of renewable and hybrid technology and/or zero emissions electric motors.

“The completion of this vehicle replacement project is absolutely necessary in order for Ben Franklin Transit to be able to continue to provide public transportation services as efficiently and effectively as possible.  It should be understood by all of the people that benefit from public transportation in the Mid-Columbia region and the Tri-Cities that Senator Murray’s help in this endeavor is greatly appreciated,” said Tim Fredrickson, General Manager, Ben Franklin Transit.

Buena Community Center Construction - $400,000

Funding will go to the Friends of the Buena Library to support building a community center in Buena, WA. 

The community center will provide a place for children to learn and a place both youth and adults come to meet as a community. The current facility is an old trailer that is in need of constant repair and is no longer appropriate.

“I believe that every person in our community has the potential to make a positive difference in their own life and in the lives of others.  A helping hand can mean the difference between crime or education, sickness or health, gangs or family, public assistance or a job.  It is through the many programs that we can offer at the community center that we provide opportunities and vision to help children and families achieve their hopes, dreams and goals for a better life. Our community is better because we all care to make a positive difference,” said Virginia Obert, Friends of Buena Library President.

Grant County Transit Vehicle Replacement and Facilities Construction - $1,000,000

Funding will go to Grant County Transit to be used toward an operations and administration building and will also support the purchase and replacement of two aging buses in the Grant Transit Authority fleet.

This project will allow Grant Transit Authority to combine its operations and maintenance functions on one site providing increased service efficiencies through better management and oversight of the public transportation system in Grant County. It will also allow Grant Transit Authority to replace and operate more fuel efficient buses.

“The construction of a permanent operations and maintenance base will allow Grant Transit Authority the ability to meet the growing transportation needs of the citizens of Grant County more efficiently by providing better management and oversight of daily operations in a centralized location,” said Kathy Bohnet, Grant Transit Authority Board Chair.

Icicle Station, Phase II - $900,000

The City of Leavenworth will receive funding to support permitting and site work for the station. Funding will also support the construction of the depot that would provide passenger shelter, information, an area for volunteer station caretakers, and accommodate future Amtrak passenger operation needs.

“Icicle Station is an important transportation project for Leavenworth and the upper Wenatchee Valley that is vital to the area’s economy.  Working with Amtrak and BNSF Railway, the project and rail passenger service to Leavenworth was approved.  Partnering with local, regional, state and federal agencies for funding permitted Phase I of this project to become a reality on September 25, 2009.  Within the first four months of service, thousands of people have enjoyed Amtrak’s Builder Service to and from Leavenworth.  Continued support for Phase II of the Icicle Station project will enable the community to meet our current passenger needs and future growth,” said Rob Eaton, Mayor of Leavenworth.

Link Transit Vehicle Replacements - $1,000,000

Chelan-Douglas Public Transportation Benefit Area (Link Transit)

Funding will support the replacement of two diesel powered trolleys with two Lithium-Ion-Titanate battery powered 30 foot, low-floor, ADA accessible buses.

Link Transit is one of few transit systems that is transitioning to fully electric urban buses. This enhances the quality of life for the citizens of the Wenatchee Valley by eliminating diesel powered pollutants and the reduction of noise associated with diesel vehicles.

MLK Boulevard Grade Separation Safety Improvements - $1,300,000

The City of Yakima will receive funding to support the construction of an underpass to provide grade separation between trains, vehicles, and pedestrians.

The project will improve emergency vehicle response times, alleviate traffic congestion, improve air quality, and eliminate at-grade crossings by vehicles and pedestrians along a major arterial serving Yakima’s Central Business District.

“This is the single largest public works or transportation project ever undertaken by the City of Yakima, and Senator Murray’s efforts will provide benefits for generations to come in the areas of public safety and economic vitality,” said Micah Cawley, Mayor of Yakima.

“Our staff and consultants have worked for over a decade to mitigate the impacts of increased train traffic through our city, and this represents the first significant effort in 40 years to improve vehicle and pedestrian crossing safety.  It takes a champion in Congress to secure funding to build a project like this, and Senator Murray has filled that role,” said Dick Zais, Yakima City Manager.

Port of Pasco Rail Infrastructure Construction - $1,400,000

Port of Pasco will receive funding to be used to construct a mile long multi-use rail line known as “Phase 5B” of a multi-year, rail hub improvement project first begun in 2003.  

All project phases have been focused on growing rail related jobs and industry in Pasco and fostering greater exports for southeast Washington agricultural interests. This project also directly supports green jobs by creating a Pacific Northwest distribution point for wind energy components.

“Completing the expansion work that was begun at the Port of Pasco 7 years ago will help to create immediate construction jobs and stimulate both exports and imports from this critical NW port. Throughout the years, Senator Murray has kept her focus on jobs creation in the Tri-Cities area and remained committed to assisting the Port with this project,” said Randy Hayden, Director of Planning and Engineering.

Red Mountain Interchange - $1,000,000

Funding for this project will support Phases I and II of the Red Mountain Interchange project. The first phase will construct a round-about at the existing intersection of State Route 224 and State Route 225. The second phase will create a new interchange on Interstate 82, connecting to State Route 244. This project will improve safety, mobility and economic development in the Red Mountain and West Richland area.

“The Red Mountain Interchange project is important in many ways to Benton County and the surrounding area.  It will improve emergency response times to the area by up to 50% - the equivalent of 9-15 minutes - minutes that can be critical in crisis situations.  In addition, the project will provide the area with commercial and industrial growth opportunities, vital to long-term economic stability,” said Leo Bowman, Benton County Commissioner.

Southridge Transportation Improvements - $500,000

The City of Kennewick will receive funding to support improvements along Southridge Boulevard, Hildebrand and Plaza Way related to the creation of the Southridge campus of Kennewick General Hospital. Specific activities include traffic mitigation efforts, creation of pedestrian pathways and perimeter transportation improvements.

Kennewick General Hospital is both an essential public health care facility and an important economic engine for the Tri-Cities. The expansion at Southridge is essential to Kennewick General Hospital’s ability to continue providing high quality health care to the growing Tri-Cities population.

“Construction of this critical infrastructure investment will enhance community access to high quality health care at Kennewick General Hospital and promote economic development in the Southridge Area.  These investments have the potential to generate thousands of future jobs in the City of Kennewick.

We sincerely thank Senator Murray for her strong leadership and her commitment to improving the safety and mobility for our region.  Completing Kennewick General Hospital and this transportation improvement project will have significant positive impacts on our community and we are pleased to partner with our federal delegation in making these critical improvements a reality,” said Steve Young, Mayor, City of Kennewick.

Yakima Housing Authority – Granger Family Housing Project - $675,000

The Yakima Housing Authority will receive funding to provide for 19 additional housing units for farmworkers and their families in the City of Granger, which would be owned and operated by the Yakima Housing Authority.

The new affordable housing units will have a direct benefit to the farmworkers and their families that live in the existing substandard housing stock in Granger. The provision of affordable housing in Granger will have a positive impact on surrounding communities such as Sunnyside, Zillah, Grandview, Mabton, and Toppenish, as farmworkers often live in small communities and travel to surrounding areas for work.

Washington State Farmworker Trust for Capacity Building - $200,000

Funding will provide for the development and implementation of a program to preserve and create jobs by supporting the agricultural industry in Washington state while also stabilizing the workforce by providing affordable housing.

This project preserves and creates agricultural jobs in Washington. The project will stabilize the agricultural workforce in our state by improving housing conditions, provide a marketing advantage for Washington agriculture in an increasing competitive global marketplace, and provides new affordable housing resources to low and moderate income households.

“Washington State has long been a leader in providing affordable housing for the hard working people who feed us, but we still have much more to do. The WA Farmworker Housing Promise offers the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork, an opportunity to participate in building a more sustainable agricultural community. We’re proud of our quality produce and the people who grow it. We’re proud of the communities we’re building together,” said Brien Thane, WSFHT Executive Director.