Larsen Continues Fighting for PNW Transportation Priorities

Larsen is a member of the committee negotiating a final transportation bill.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, delivered the following statement at a meeting of the House and Senate members who are negotiating a final transportation bill. Larsen is working to include Washington state’s transportation priorities in the final version of the bill.

Watch Larsen’s opening remarks here. Larsen’s remarks below are as prepared for delivery.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

In Washington state, transportation means jobs.

Investing in our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems puts people to work and keeps our economy moving. When I talk with my constituents in Washington state, I hear about the somewhat unique issues they face every day.

One of those issues is adequate funding for ferryboats. Ferries are a lifeline in our state, not a luxury.

Thousands of people in my district, and throughout the country, use ferries every day to get to work, school and medical appointments.

I hope we can agree that additional funding for the ferry system is a key part of a final agreement, particularly if there is a move to change the funding formulas within the ferry program. I also hope we’ll ensure ferry funding is spent in a timely manner, and that we eliminate the loophole allowing private ferry programs to receive public dollars.

Another major issue I hear about in my district is that smaller and midsized cities have trouble competing with bigger cities for federal resources. The House bill includes language I authored that creates an expedited application process for smaller, low-risk projects that want to use TIFIA financing.

The Senate package includes additional TIFIA reforms that I believe will help smaller cities in my district and across the country compete for federal aid. These reforms will also help bike and pedestrian projects compete for TIFIA funding.

Sidewalks, trails and bike lanes are critical to our transportation network.

Less than 2 percent of federal transportation funding goes to the Transportation Alternatives Program, which funds bike and pedestrian projects. But communities leverage these small funds to get big results. I hope you will agree that we must protect this funding in the final bill, as we did in both the House and Senate bills.

Transit is another critical part of the transportation network in my district. People depend on buses and bus infrastructure to get to work and school each day.

I support the changes made in the House bill to require competition nationally for transit funding.

Finally, I appreciate that both bills improve the safety of crude oil traveling by rail and our bridge infrastructure. I hope we’ll continue to push forward on both of those issues, which are hugely important in my district.

Thank you for your leadership Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on these issues.

I yield back.