Today, members of the Washington delegation announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will make available $15.6 million in emergency funds to support repairs to the I-5 Skagit River Bridge.
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and U.S. Representatives Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) announced that the USDOT Emergency Relief funds will be used to support the temporary and permanent replacement of the bridge, which collapsed on May 23.
The USDOT Emergency Relief program provides emergency funding for highway repair after natural disasters or catastrophic failures from an external cause. The Emergency Relief program was reauthorized in last year's transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, which passed Congress in June 2012 and was signed by President Obama in July 2012.
In order to receive USDOT Emergency Relief, the state is required to request funding and make a formal declaration of emergency. On May 24, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a State of Emergency for Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
"Today's announcement is great news for Washington state families and businesses who rely on I-5 every day," Murray said. "It's also an important step for communities in Northwest Washington whose local economies have paid the price in the wake of this collapse. I'm working closely with transportation officials to put temporary and permanent fixes in place, but we can't stop there. This accident was a wake-up call for our state and our entire country that we can no longer afford to put off repairs and replacements for our aging infrastructure."
"The federal commitment to $15 million means thousands of commuters and truckers will get to their destination quicker," Cantwell said. "Time means money, in this case: $38 million of U.S.-Canada trade cargo crosses the Skagit River on trucks every day. Today, the federal government is stepping up to the plate and meeting its commitment to rapidly restoring a vital route for the Pacific Northwest's economy. I appreciate Secretary LaHood's responsiveness to this emergency and want to thank him for his hard work to help Washington state's economy recover."
"This money will go a long way to getting traffic moving again on Interstate 5," Larsen said. "This is a sterling example of what happens when government at all levels works together to solve problems. I appreciate the U.S. Department of Transportation's commitment to getting our bridge fixed as quickly and safely as possible."
"Over the last few weeks, the community and local businesses around the Skagit Valley have done a tremendous job coping with the disruption and delays caused by the bridge collapse. The community has done everything possible to keep Skagit County open for business, but reopening the corridor is key," DelBene said. "Last weekend, I was pleased to see in person the progress construction crews are making in building the temporary structure. The release of today's federal funds demonstrates the federal government's commitment to getting Skagit's local economy moving again."