Jaime Herrera Beutler this week took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose walls along I-5 as the solution to flooding in the Chehalis River basin.
On Wednesday, June 27, Jaime introduced an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) appropriations bill that would prohibit federal funding from being used to wall off the I-5 freeway through the Twin Cities. Jaime has heard strong concern from locals that the floodwall design put forth by WSDOT would worsen the impact of flooding on Chehalis, Centralia and the surrounding communities.
"When flooding hits the Chehalis River basin, it's like having an invader that comes to destroy the homes and businesses here," said Jaime. "This proposal would be like building a castle wall around I-5 that only protects a road while leaving citizens totally vulnerable to the invading floods. I can't allow a plan that only protects valuable government property while leaving residents' lives, properties, and livelihoods vulnerable. If the entire federal investment is spent on the I-5 wall, it greatly diminishes the resources left to help protect families and communities.
"Protecting I-5 must be part of a basin wide solution, but simply erecting flood walls, raised lanes, or bypass lanes around the freeway does not give Southwest Washington the comprehensive solution our communities need to protect them from flooding. The goal of my effort here is to move forward with a basin wide solution and eliminate plans that ignore families, seniors, and businesses."
Jaime received assurances from the U.S. House T-HUD Subcommittee that they will work with her to address this issue within the T-HUD appropriation bill conference report, allowing her to withdraw her amendment. She will continue to work with WSDOT to develop this initiative, and will ensure her efforts do not interfere with the Mellen Street to Grand Mound project or any other ongoing local projects that rely on federal funding.