Issue Position: Transportation
Since coming to the Senate, Maria has worked to improve transportation in Washington state. She has helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding that has enhanced freight mobility, reduced congestion, expanded public transportation networks and most importantly, improved safety on our roads. Last summer, Congress targeted over $150 million in highway dollars for 200 desperately-needed transportation projects in Washington state.
Supporting Local Transportation Projects
Among the hundreds of projects she has supported, Maria has secured funding to replace critical infrastructure such as the Alaska Way Viaduct, 520 floating bridge, and Columbia River crossing between Vancouver and Portland. She has worked hard to improve traffic safety with projects like the Tacoma Traffic Management System and improvements to U.S. 395 north of Spokane. Understanding the importance of moving goods efficiently to support our state's economy, Maria has also worked to enhance freight mobility with projects such as the expansion of the truck crossing lanes to and from Vancouver B.C. and grade separations near our seaports and throughout our state. To reduce congestion on our roads, she has supported infrastructure improvements such as the Triangle Interchange Project on I-5 near Federal Way, the Tulalip Interchange Improvement Project, and the Salmon River Interchange Project in Clark County.
Maria has helped expand public transportation services throughout the state with projects like an extension of the light rail system in the Puget Sound and bus rapid transit in Snohomish County, replacing dilapidated transportation vehicles in Benton and Franklin Counties, making improvements to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, and improving park and ride facilities around the state.
She has also worked to add recreational trails and paths for pedestrians and bicyclists such as the Snohomish River Shoreline Trail, and backed efforts to reduce pollution by supporting projects like the Hybrid Clean Air Bus Initiative in King County.
Washington state's diverse transportation sector is the hallmark of our growing region today. Senator Maria Cantwell believes it will be essential to our community's growth and prosperity tomorrow. She has fought to support the critical infrastructure that allows our industries to grow and our communities to thrive and argued for more investments in the research to spur critical innovation across Washington.
Building New Partnerships for Energy Efficient and Cheaper Transportation
Maria has helped facilitate groundbreaking partnerships across Washington's transportation sector to help put America firmly on the road to energy independence and reduce fuel transportation costs. Maria brokered a commitment by the Port of Seattle and SSA Marine, the world's largest privately held cargo terminal operator and cargo handling company, to purchase one million gallons of biodiesel annually from Seattle Biodiesel and convert their entire vehicle fleet to run on Washington-produced biodiesel. Maria also worked with officials from the Port of Grays Harbor and representatives from Seattle Biodiesel to develop one of the nation's largest biodiesel plants at the Port of Grays Harbor, and is securing funding to help Puget Sound ferries to use biodiesel.
Supporting and Expanding Our Ports
The Puget Sound port system is one of the busiest and largest in the U.S., providing a vital link between Washington products and foreign markets. To help keep our ports running smoothly, Maria has worked to enhance security, consistently calling for more port security grant funding to address critical security needs. The American Association of Port Authorities estimates we need to provide $400 million in port security grants each year, but the administration has failed to budget for even half this amount. Maria has worked to increase this funding, and prevent the administration's attempts to eliminate the port security grant program. These grants help upgrade security infrastructure like gates and fencing, install security-related lighting systems and remote surveillance systems, hire security personnel, and acquire screening equipment. Maria also helped facilitate an agreement to expand the Port of Tacoma's Evergreen Shipping Terminal and to construct a major new container terminal.
Improving Ferry Security
To help make sure our ferries are secure, Maria has introduced legislation to conduct security screening before ferries depart for the U.S. At present, security screenings on international ferry routes between Canada and Washington take place when passengers and vehicles traveling from Canada disembark at ports in the U.S. For example, security screenings of passengers and vehicles traveling from Sidney, B.C. to Anacortes, occur in Anacortes, even though ferries stop in Friday Harbor, along the way. This presents a serious security risk as ferries are most vulnerable during transit.
Fostering Innovation in Aerospace
Maria knows that innovation and cutting edge technology are key to Washington's economy. That's why she worked hard to create a Center of Excellence for applied research and training in the use of advanced materials in commercial airplanes. Established at the University of Washington in 2003, the Center of Excellence coordinates research efforts and encourages the broader use of advanced structural materials, including composites and aluminum alloys, in future aircraft such as the Boeing 787.The Center's launch coincided with Boeing's decision on the location of the Dreamliner production line and helped Washington state secure over 1,000 jobs. A two-year degree program in advanced composite technology at Edmonds Community College is helping to train area workers for the Dreamliner. The Center capitalizes on Washington's technological know-how to expand the region's research and development capabilities, helping to ensure that Washington remains a global leader in aerospace innovation.
Looking at the Future of Aviation
To maintain America's leadership in aeronautics and aviation, Maria pushed for the bipartisan Second Century of Flight Act. Parts of this bill have become law, thanks in part to her efforts, and now Washington will become the new home for the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance. Maria has also worked to deliver better coordination of research programs, a next generation air traffic management system plan, funds to support education in aeronautics, improved safety, lower emissions and efficiency for aircraft, and much-needed research.
Fighting Airbus Subsidies
Maria has been an outspoken critic of the European Union's "launch aid" subsidies, which is risk-free, low-cost government funding for the development of new lines of aircraft. The company only needs to repay the loans if the new product succeeds. This means Airbus remains unfettered by marketplace realities, while American companies must assume realistic levels of commercial risk. Maria was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan, Senate-passed resolution opposed to the launch aid and requesting WTO action. She continues to speak regularly on the issue.
Helping Aviation After 9/11
The aviation industry faced potentially devastating losses in the aftermath of 9/11. Maria has worked hard to provide substantive assistance to both the businesses of the airline industry and those who work for them. She was an original cosponsor of the Displaced Workers Assistance Act of 2001, which provided support for those who lost work in the airline industry due to the attacks of 9/11 or security measures. Maria stood together with the rest of state's Congressional delegation in order to secure much-needed aid.
Spurring International Travel and Commerce
Maria recognizes the unique relationship between the state of Washington and China and the potential for additional markets for our goods in their markets. She is working to encourage non-stop flights between China and Seattle to boost trade and strengthen cultural connections. She spoke with China's President Hu when he was in Seattle last about the potential business and leisure travelers from Washington state which could sustain a non-stop air route from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Beijing or Shanghai.