Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will award a $10 million competitive grant to the North Spokane Corridor (NSC) project on Friday. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which applied for the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant in March, will use the grant to:
Relocate 7.5 miles of BNSF mainline and switch spur rail tracks near the Freya Street interchange
Extend an existing 5.5-mile bicycle/pedestrian trail for more than one mile to serve the Hillyard neighborhood
Each of these components is critical to the NSC's completion and will help bring the project one step closer to I-90.
"This investment is a major step forward for Eastern Washington businesses and jobs," said Senator Maria Cantwell. "The North Spokane Corridor is one of my top transportation priorities, because of the significant benefits for Spokane area businesses, families and travelers. Today's great news is a result of the bipartisan effort with Senator Murray, Representative McMorris Rodgers, Governor Gregoire, Mayor Condon, WSDOT, and Spokane community and business leaders like Rich Hadley. When completed, the North Spokane Corridor will expedite the movement of freight through the region and enable business growth on nearby land."
"I created the TIGER program to invest in projects like the North Spokane Corridor that boost the local economy, get workers on the job, and lay down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth," said Senator Patty Murray. "The North Spokane Corridor is so important to the local economy, and I was proud to work with Senator Cantwell to push the Department of Transportation to make this important investment."
"This is great news for Eastern Washington and our state," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. "The North Spokane Freeway has been -- and continues to be -- an effective multimodal transportation system that has the potential to create thousands of jobs and bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue to our community. I appreciate WSDOT for submitting the grant, DOT for approving it, the bipartisan efforts of Senators Cantwell and Murray, and the outstanding work of our community leaders, including Betsy Cowles, Steve Robinson, and Wayne Brokaw of Keep Spokane Moving and Rich Hadley of Greater Spokane Inc. I will continue to work with all of these leaders to complete the North Spokane Freeway and bolster Eastern Washington's economy."
"Once again, our thanks go to our federal delegation of Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for their ongoing commitment to seeing this important transportation and economic link built in Spokane," said Spokane Mayor David Condon. "We are enhancing connectivity to our City and the movement of people and goods. I also want to thank the Northeast Mayors Association for their efforts to make this corridor a top priority for our region."
Cantwell, Murray and McMorris Rodgers have been strong advocates of WSDOT's request for a TIGER grant for the NSC. In an April 16 letter to USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Cantwell, Murray and McMorris Rodgers expressed strong, bipartisan support for WSDOT's grant application.
This spring, Cantwell, Murray and McMorris Rodgers each spoke to LaHood individually and urged him to support the project with a grant.
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.