Senator Murray, Govenor Gregoire Announce that North Spokane Freeway Will Receive $35 Million Under Murray's TIGER Grant Program

Feb 17 2010

Funding will help generate local jobs and complete critical stretch of north-south freeway - the Spokane region's top transportation priority

**NOTE: Senator Murray and Governor Gregoire will hold a public event in Spokane on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY, 18th to tout this major funding victory – Details to follow.

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, and Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire announced that the North Spokane Corridor project will receive $35 million under the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant program which Senator Murray created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Murray set up the $1.5 billion TIGER program to fund transportation projects that not only quickly create jobs and boost local economies but that also make a significant investment in improving transportation infrastructure that is vital to a region’s sustained job growth and economic competitiveness. The grants were awarded competitively by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“This is a huge win for a project that has long been the centerpiece of efforts to boost Spokane’s economy and create local jobs,” said Senator Murray. “The North Spokane Corridor is exactly the type of project I had in mind when working to create this grant program. That’s because it’s a critical project that will have a major regional impact. This project puts people to work, improves safety, reduces congestion, and helps build a more economically vibrant and competitive region.“

“With this federal funding, we will improve travel time for commuters, ease congestion on the streets of Spokane and help encourage the growth of the region’s economy,” said Governor Gregoire.  “We are creating construction jobs in the short term and will provide the foundation for more jobs in the long term.”

Senator Murray was informed Tuesday that the North Spokane Corridor project would receive funding in a personal phone call from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Murray has spoken to Secretary LaHood several times about the project’s potential to create jobs, have a major regional economic impact, and has reiterated that funding could be utilized quickly as project construction is already underway. Governor Gregoire submitted the project as part of Washington state’s TIGER application to complement the $559 million in state funds already invested for the corridor.

“This project is consistent with Senator Murray's support for this region's future economic growth,” said Rich Hadley, President and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated. “This project offers a new route to benefit the counties north of us, a new freight corridor removing trucks from city arterials, and spin-off business and industry jobs for the adjacent Hillyard community.”

“This is what can happen when a community comes together under the leadership of Senator Patty Murray,” said Wayne Brokaw, Executive Director, Associated General Contractors. “Everyone has been behind this effort: the bikers, the runners, the environmental groups, and businesses. This is a win for so many in the Spokane community.”

Expansion and replacement of U.S.395 through Spokane remains one of the region’s top transportation priorities.  The corridor has become increasingly congested due to population growth in the region as well as increased truck volumes.  The project creates a thoroughfare through the city of Spokane connecting I-90 with U.S. 395, north of the city.  When fully completed, the North Spokane Corridor will be a 60-mile per hour, limited access highway.  However, it will also facilitate enhanced transit service as well as improved facilities for bicycles and pedestrian traffic. 

The funding announced today represents the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) full request of $35 million under the TIGER program.  WSDOT plans to use TIGER funding to build two southbound lanes from Francis Avenue to US 395, completing 3.7 miles of the highway in an economically important corridor. The northbound lanes were recently opened to traffic and are being used for both northbound and southbound traffic.

Since Fiscal Year 2002, Senator Murray has secured $18.64 million for work on the first phase of this project. The North Spokane Corridor was one of two projects funded in Washington state by Murray’s TIGER Grant program, the other was the Mercer Corridor project in Seattle.