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Letter to The Honorable Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to support investment in the North Spokane Corridor, calling the project "a critical artery that will speed movement of vehicles and freight" around the Spokane metropolitan area.

In a letter sent today to DOT, Cantwell, Murray and McMorris Rodgers expressed strong support for the Washington State Department of Transportation's application for a TIGER IV (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant. The requested $18.9 million grant would allow the next phase of construction on the project to go forward. This phase includes relocating more than seven miles of rail, which would support Spokane-area private industry, construction of two new freeway crossings over the tracks, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements that stretch into the Hillyard neighborhood. A decision regarding the project's application for a TIGER IV grant could come from DOT as early as May.

"The North Spokane Corridor is an economic and mobility necessity for the Inland Northwest," the members wrote in the letter sent today. "It completes a long-missing link in the region's transportation system, provides new access to underdeveloped industrial and residential property, will reduce travel times, and speeds freight and other goods to market. We encourage you to approve Washington State Department of Transportation's application for TIGER IV funding for US-395/North Spokane Corridor BNSF Railroad Structures/Realignment, and are proud to lend our support to this important regional priority."

Currently, all north-south traffic through Spokane moves on principle arterial streets. This means international freight traffic and passenger traffic share the roads with residents of local communities, leading to greater congestion, longer travel times, increased fuel usage, more greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced safety. Once completed, Spokane's North-South Corridor will link I-90 on the south end with existing U.S. 2 and U.S. 395 on the north end. This will allow international, interstate and regional traffic to bypass neighborhoods in the Spokane metropolitan area. Improvements to the freight transportation system through Spokane will also assist the economies of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties north of Spokane.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, when completed, the project is expected to:

improve access to over 500 acres of industrial/commercial land and 329 acres of underutilized residential property in the Hillyard area
reduce travel time by 9.4 million hours per year at a value of $240 million per year
save $22 million annually in societal costs related to collision reduction
provide greater efficiency for 7.2 million tons of freight moving through the area valued at $13.5 million per year
The complete text of the letter sent today follows:

April 16, 2012
The Honorable Ray LaHood
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

We are writing to express our strong and united support for Washington State Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) IV application for US-395/North Spokane Corridor BNSF Railroad Structures/Realignment. This critical project is the next phase towards completion of the North Spokane Corridor, a critical artery that will speed movement of vehicles and freight from I-90 north to US-395 and US-2.

Originally conceived in 1946, the North Spokane Corridor will be a 60-mile per hour, 10.5 mile limited access highway that serves the more than 500,000 residents of the Inland Northwest. This new corridor will allow vehicles to bypass a route that now passes through 29 signalized intersections, resulting in travel time reductions valued at $240 million annually. The benefits will not just be seen by personal vehicles, but by freight traffic -- the existing US-395 corridor carries over 7.2 million tons of freight (with a $13.5 billion value) annually through Spokane. The new North Spokane Corridor will take trucks off of local roads, improve efficiencies, and reduce delays -- as well as support the development of the Inland Pacific Hub.

This TIGER IV application will allow the next phase of the North Spokane Corridor to move forward with relocation of 7.5 miles of BNSF railroad mainline, switching and spur tracks which supports private industry, construction of two new freeway crossings over the tracks, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements that stretch into the Hillyard neighborhood. These improvements are essential as the project advances south towards the Spokane River and I-90.

The North Spokane Corridor is an economic and mobility necessity for the Inland Northwest. It completes a long-missing link in the region's transportation system, provides new access to underdeveloped industrial and residential property, will reduce travel times, and speeds freight and other goods to market. We encourage you to approve Washington State Department of Transportation's application for TIGER IV funding for US-395/North Spokane Corridor BNSF Railroad Structures/Realignment, and are proud to lend our support to this important regional priority.

Sincerely,
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Patty Murray
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers


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