Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded progress on the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) project, as the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) opened the US 2 to Wandermere segment to traffic today. The two-mile segment of highway was completed with funding from the transportation package passed by the state legislature in 2003.
Cantwell has advocated for the U.S. Department of Transportation to invest in completing the North Spokane Corridor, which will help improve the movement of consumer and freight traffic in Eastern Washington.
"Each segment that is completed brings the North Spokane Corridor project one step closer to completion," said Cantwell. "I'm glad to see the project moving forward to support Eastern Washington businesses, jobs and travelers. I applaud WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond and Governor Gregoire for their strong leadership on this project. The North Spokane Corridor will continue to be one of my top priorities for state and federal transportation investment."
Cantwell has also been a strong advocate of WSDOT's application -- submitted in March -- for an $18.9 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for the NSC. On May 11, Cantwell joined Spokane Mayor David Condon for a tour of a construction site on the southbound lanes of the North Spokane Corridor and urged U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to award a TIGER grant for the project.
In late April, Cantwell spoke to Secretary LaHood and urged him to support the project with a grant. In an April 16 letter to LaHood, Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) expressed strong, bipartisan support for WSDOT's grant application. Cantwell also submitted a separate letter in support of the project with WSDOT's grant application.
A completed NSC would be a tremendous boost to Eastern Washington's freight network. Once it's done, the NSC would allow trucks and commuters to bypass city streets with 29 stoplights for a modern, high-speed roadway that links I-90 with US-395. This would save an estimated 30 minutes of driving time, divert up to 100,000 trips per day from city streets and reduce annual travel time up and down the corridor by 9.4 million hours per year. The estimated value of these efficiencies is $240 million each year.
Those hours will add up for the farmers and manufacturers that transport goods and materials through the corridor. According to WSDOT, freight-dependent industries in Spokane County employed nearly 100,000 people in 2009, the most recent year data is available. Each year, $13.5 billion dollars of freight move along the existing corridor -- or about 7 million tons. The NSC will help spur economic development in the future.
The completed NSC will also increase access to more than 500 acres of commercial and industrial land ripe for development. In 2010, more than 533 million tons of freight moved in Washington -- a number expected to grow by 86 percent by 2040.