Murray Holds Hearing to Ease Freight Congestion in Washington State

Mar 15 2001

3 Washington State residents testify before Senate Transportation Appropriations subcommittee

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In response to overwhelming growth in railroad freight traffic throughout Washington state, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today held a hearing on how to increase competition and improve mobility in the rail shipping industry. The hearing was held by the Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriates committee, of which Senator Murray is the ranking Democrat. Three prominent Washington state residents testified at the hearing:
• Perry Dozier, President of the Washington Wheat Growers Association
• Mic Dinsmore, C.E.O. of the Port of Seattle
• and Karen Schmidt, Executive Director, Washington's Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.

"With one out of every three jobs in Washington state related to international trade, we must have a modern transportation system able to move freight efficiently across the state and across the country," Murray said. "Our ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett represent the 3rd largest container port in the nation, and we must ease freight congestion to keep our position as a leader in international trade."

Increased trade with the Pacific Rim will substantially increase international shipping in the near future. In the Northwest region, container traffic is expected to grow by more than 130 percent, and grain traffic is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next 10 years. Yet competition from less expensive Canadian ports could threaten Washington state's viability as a leading port.

"Shippers using the Port of Seattle already pay $125 per container more than they do at the Port of Vancouver. Unless we take aggressive steps to ensure that our ports remain competitive and that freight-related jobs stay within our borders, we could jeopardize our position of prominence." Murray continued.

Murray praised the efforts by state and city governments in Washington to address the challenges of freight congestion. She commended the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for its investment in the FAST Corridor initiative, a cost sharing arrangement to provide congestion relief in the Puget Sound area. Murray also noted that, along with other members of the Washington state delegation, she has already obtained $82 million in federal funds toward the initiative.