Larsen: Bold, FDR-Like Surface Transportation Bill Creates Jobs, Fights Climate Change in Northwest Washington
Washington, D.C. , June 10, 2021
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee completed consideration of the INVEST in America Act, a bold, FDR-like surface transportation bill that will invest nearly $5 billion over the next five years in Washington state’s transportation network.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Early this morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee completed consideration of the INVEST in America Act, a bold, FDR-like surface transportation bill that will invest nearly $5 billion over the next five years in Washington state’s transportation network. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), a senior member of the Committee, released the below statement following the full Committee markup:
“In Washington state and across the country, transportation means jobs and is key to economic recovery. The INVEST in America Act includes bold, FDR-like investment in roads, bridges, highways, waterways, rail infrastructure and transit to create jobs, drive economic recovery and build a cleaner, greener and safer transportation network. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bill and keep Washingtonians and the economy moving forward.”
The INVEST in America Act addresses many of Larsen’s local infrastructure priorities, including:
Cleaner and Greener Buses
Local transit agencies like Everett Transit and the Whatcom Transportation Authority are expanding electric bus fleets to keep people moving while reducing maintenance costs, lowering energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions. The INVEST in America Act includes Larsen’s legislation to boost the use of zero-emission buses in local transit fleets by requiring the deployment of zero-emission buses by organizations engaged in public transportation. The bill also includes $6.6 billion for states and transit agencies to invest in fleet expansion and build improved bus facilities.
Cleaner and Greener Ferries
States like Washington – where ferries account for 73 percent of the state’s annual carbon emissions – and localities across the country are ready to commit to cleaner and greener passenger ferry fleets, but still need robust federal investment to support their efforts. The INVEST in America Act includes Larsen’s bill to encourage the use of federal funds for the purchase of low- and no-emission ferry vessels and construction of related infrastructure to combat climate change. The bill also invests $245 million to support passenger ferry systems and $120 million to construct ferry boats and ferry terminal facilities.
Promoting Transportation Jobs, Boosting Diversity
The need is growing for more professional airline pilots, air traffic controllers, railroad workers and truck drivers, mechanics and other professions as industry stakeholders face increased competition worldwide. The transportation workforce also faces a diversity issue: nearly 90 percent of professional airline pilots and nearly 70 percent of truck drivers are white males. The INVEST in America Act includes Larsen’s bipartisan provision to grow the next generation workforce by promoting career opportunities and boosting diversity in the U.S. transportation industry. The bill also establishes apprenticeship goals by employing traditionally underrepresented populations to create a more diverse construction workforce.
Repairing Washington’s Bridges
According to a recent report, nearly 400 bridges in Washington state are structurally deficient and the state has identified more than 6,500 bridges in need of repair. The INVEST in America Act includes approximately $5 billion over five years to make an important down payment on the nation’s bridge safety needs. The bill also requires states to use a greater percentage of their federal funding allocation on bridge repair and rehabilitation projects.
Keeping Rail On Track
Reliable and efficient passenger rail service is essential to connecting communities like Everett, Stanwood, Mount Vernon and Bellingham in the Second District to Seattle, Spokane, Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia. The INVEST in America Act includes robust federal funding Larsen advocated to renew and support long-distance and state-supported Amtrak routes like Empire Builder, Coast Starlight and Cascades that serve more than 13.1 million customers in Washington state annually. The bill also strengthens freight rail safety, requiring freight trains to have a certified engineer and a certified conductor on board.
Expanding the Bike/Pedestrian Network
Washington state was once again named the most bicycle friendly state in the country bythe League of American Bicyclists. To ensure safety comes first for vulnerable road users, Second District communities like Bellingham and Lynnwood depend on federal resources to invest in bike lanes, sidewalks and trails. The INVEST in America Act includes provisions Larsen supported to boost federal funding for communities to have the resources needed to improve safety and equity for all road users, increase mobility and reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Using Innovative Construction Materials
Washington state alone needs more than $222 billion in infrastructure investments. The INVEST in America Act includes provisions Larsen advocated for to improve research on and expand use of cutting-edge materials in infrastructure projects to improve safety, promote resiliency, reduce carbon emissions and support local jobs.
Replacing Fish Barrier Culverts
According to the state’s Department of Transportation, Washington’s highway network includes approximately 1,995 fish barrier culverts built to federal design standards. Due to changes in the landscape resulting from development, logging and fire, these culverts unintentionally block endangered salmon species from accessing critical habitat, spawning grounds and food sources. The INVEST in America Act includes language Larsen supported to authorize $100 million per year to improve habitat connectivity which will help Washington replace more than 400 fish barrier culverts across the state. He will continue to push for a legislative solution to mend the American Rescue Plan statute to clarify states can use available pandemic relief funds for culvert replacement projects.
Targeted Local Infrastructure Investments
The INVEST in America Act includes several earmarks Larsen requested to address immediate local infrastructure needs in Northwest Washington. Larsen secured a total investment of $19.44 million for five Second District projects local stakeholders identified as critical to fostering long-term economic growth, including:
Larsen also championed a provision in the bill to ensure medium-sized cities in the Second District like Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Oak Harbor have increased access to federal funding to address their individual infrastructure needs.
For a summary of the INVEST in America Act, click here.
For Larsen’s district transportation report, click here.
For video of Second District mayors advocating federal investment in infrastructure, click here.