Senator Murray Delivers Millions for Pierce County Housing, Transportation, and Law Enforcement Projects in Yearly Spending Bill

Feb 23 2009

Murray includes funding for Pierce County transportation, affordable housing, and law enforcement needs; funding in bill will create and save jobs

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included millions in funding for transportation, housing, and community development projects in Central Washington in critical yearly spending legislation. The funding is included in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which provides funding for most federal government programs and targeted community projects for Fiscal Year 2009. The Omnibus bill is separate from the Economic Recovery bill passed by Congress and enacted by Barack Obama last week. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray helped to include millions for important projects and programs in Pierce County in the Omnibus bill. 

"We are investing in Main Street again," said Senator Murray. "In the face of a deepening recession, this bill puts federal funding back into our communities where it can create and save jobs and address local needs. This funding will improve public transportation, help keep families in their homes, improve safety in Pierce County. I'm proud to work to return Pierce County taxpayer dollars to projects in their own backyard."

The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009. The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled today and is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks. The funding levels included in this bill represent what will be sent to the President if the bill is approved by Congress.

The following projects were included in the bill in the Pierce County region:

Pierce Transit Peninsula Park and Ride, Pierce County: $2,351,250
This project will include a park and ride lot accommodating between 500-525 automobiles. An in-line station will be constructed in the median of SR-16, which will be connected to both the new Peninsula Park and Ride and the existing Kimball Park and Ride facility with a pedestrian bridge. This project will support increased fixed route bus and vanpool ridership on the Gig Harbor Peninsula, in addition to reducing congestion and increasing the people-carrying capacity of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

“The Peninsula Park and Ride project will help reduce traffic congestion and offer significantly improved transit access to Tacoma, Seattle and the entire Puget Sound region for the dramatically growing Gig Harbor Peninsula community,” said Lynne Griffith, Pierce Transit CEO. “The project continues Pierce Transit’s tradition of providing safe, reliable, and innovative transit solutions.”

Salishan HOPE IV, Tacoma: $950,000
The Salishan Housing project and related redevelopments consist of a number of elements including the rehabilitation of older housing stock and the construction of new units. The planned improvements will include about 180 rental units and 182 homes that will be sold to qualifying low-income individuals and families.

“This is not our fathers’ public housing,” said Michael Mirra, director of the Tacoma Housing Authority, the lead agency for the $225 million project. “It is transforming East Tacoma.” “It’s a very easy thing to describe because we at THA have put our hearts and lives into it,” he said. “It’s ambitious in what we hope to achieve in terms of scale, and it’s ambitious in its goals of social justice.”

Lincoln Avenue Grade Separation, Port of Tacoma: $950,000
Lincoln Avenue is a major arterial serving a high number of trucks as a primary connector between Interstate 5 and the Port of Tacoma.  The grade separation project will facilitate two major objectives.  First, rail service for activities north of Lincoln Avenue will no longer impede surface traffic on Lincoln Avenue, and second, the grade separation will allow the construction of multiple tracks for rail staging of trains. Both of these functions provide highly improved functioning rail service and allow for growth, particularly for intermodal trains.  

"Safe, efficient movement of truck and rail freight to and from Port of Tacoma terminals is critical for the continued expansion of South Puget Sound economic development," said Dick Marzano," President, Port of Tacoma Commission. "The Lincoln Avenue Overpass project is a central component of our efforts to expand Port activity safely with minimal impact to our neighboring communities."

Shaw Road Extension Project, City of Puyallup: $2,137,500
This project will improve 1,000 linear feet of the existing Shaw Road alignment to add sidewalks, bike lanes, and turn lanes at the Pioneer intersection.  This extension will relieve congestion by creating a new route functioning independently of the BNSF line.  It will increase safety and capacity to the city’s arterial network, as well as enhance regional freight mobility, and facilitate increased and safer railway usage. 

"We knew in 1983 that the extension of Shaw Road was an important element of Puyallup’s arterial grid," said Puyallup Mayor Don Malloy.  "We know now that it is an absolutely essential north-south corridor that will help alleviate traffic congestion on South Hill, as well as provide a safe route over the BNSF rail line to valley freeways."

National Methamphetamine Training and Technical Assistance Center: $1.2 million
This funding would be used to make Tacoma and Pierce County the home to the principal, national meth education and training resource center for the nation.

"This funding will go toward bringing the nation's best methamphetamine research, prevention and education resources to Pierce County," said Senator Murray. "It would provide new support in our fight against meth and would allow us to share the expertise we have gained from the epidemic we have faced in Washington state."

The funding that Senator Murray included will go toward the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative, the Pierce County Alliance, and the Safe Streets Campaign who have partnered to work on establishing the NMTTAC in Pierce County. The NMTTAC will not provide treatment services, but it will analyze best practices and conduct trainings in Washington state and around the country for medical professionals, law enforcement, educators and environmental clean-up specialists. Washington state has been recognized as an ideal location for the facility because of its successful statewide efforts, spearheaded by the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative, to combat the use and production of methamphetamine. 

Pierce County Comprehensive Regional Gang Prevention Initiative: $1,000,000 
This Pierce County project aims to help at-risk youth that are exposed to or engaged in criminal behavior change their lives. The initiative plans to reach approximately 500 youth with the intention of keeping them out of the criminal justice system.

"This funding will help show Pierce County teens in jeopardy of joining gangs that there is another way," said Senator Murray. "It will provide at-risk youth with the skills and opportunities they need to change their lives and will motivate those around them to do the same. It will also lead to safer streets and improved communities in Tacoma and throughout Pierce County."

Pierce County law enforcement officials report that the threat of gangs is on the rise with more than 1000 active gang members throughout Pierce County.  The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2007 National Drug Threat Analysis concludes that the Pacific Coast Region has emerged as a distribution center for wholesale quantities of illicit drugs and lists the Puget Sound/Tacoma area as increasingly impacted by criminal gangs that are the most prolific producers, transporters and distributors of narcotics. 

The Pierce County Comprehensive Regional Gang Prevention Initiative brings a team of prevention specialists, police, prosecutors, schools, health and community based organizations together to work collaboratively throughout Pierce County to identify services for youth and their families impacted by drugs, violence and gang related issues.

“The regional partnership for gang prevention is a powerful alliance that builds networks so our youth can truly have a chance for healthy and safe lifestyles," said Priscilla A. Lisicich, Executive Director of the Tacoma Safe Streets Campaign. "I believe we, as community members and workers, are called to do everything we can to create a sense of hope – giving our youth the possibility for a healthy, safe and happy future.  That means we must stay committed to working together and to build sustainable programs for futures with hope rather than despair.  This funding gives us resources to work together collaboratively and provide critical services to gang impacted youth and families thereby creating positive futures for hundreds of youth.”