Larsen Introduces Bill to Ensure Federal Transportation Funding for Washington Cities

Feb 7, 2020 Issues: Transportation & Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Rep. Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01), Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-08) introduced legislation to ensure medium-sized cities receive critical federal funding for surface transportation and infrastructure projects. The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development for Underfunded Projects (BUILD UP) Act requires at least 30 percent of funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program be awarded to cities with 10,000 to 75,000 residents, which would benefit several communities in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest.

Previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, DOT’s BUILD grant program awards federal funding to local surface transportation projects across the country. However, most BUILD grant funding benefits large metropolitan areas and the program’s structure can force medium-sized cities to delay or indefinitely postpone vital transportation projects. Larsen’s legislation would support innovative, surface infrastructure projects in medium-sized cities that lack the funding major urban areas typically receive. Larsen first introduced this bill in 2013 as the TIGER CUBS Act.

“You cannot have a big-league economy with little league infrastructure. In Washington state and across the country, transportation means jobs, and the BUILD UP program will help build bigger paychecks by helping medium-sized cities build better infrastructure,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “BUILD UP will help medium-sized cities in the Pacific Northwest meet their individual needs and ensure vital federal funding for critical surface transportation and infrastructure projects.”

“Building up Washington state’s infrastructure is a necessity for our region’s economic success. Right now, the majority of TIGER funds are allocated to large cities and statewide projects, leaving mere leftovers to our rural communities that need help,” said Rep. DelBene. “This legislation would afford a greater share of funding to smaller communities.”

“In our region and across the Pacific Northwest, investments in roads and bridges mean jobs and economic opportunity,” said Rep. Kilmer. “In large cities across the country like Seattle, the economy is cooking. But, beyond the shadow of the Space Needle, we need to ensure that our economies are getting the federal investments they need. This legislation will help medium and small-sized cities get an equal chance to compete for critical funding to improve their transportation systems and – in the process – boost economic development and their competitiveness. I’m grateful to Rep. Larsen for leading this charge and I’m happy to be a partner in working for jobs.”

“As House Democrats develop a broad plan to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems and other critical infrastructure, it’s critical that suburban cities and small towns don’t get left behind,” said Rep. Jayapal. “By driving badly-needed federal transportation funds to smaller cities and towns that have been neglected by existing federal transportation programs, the BUILD UP Act will help ensure cities like Shoreline, Edmonds, Lake Forest Park, and Burien have the support they need to rebuild ages-old infrastructure.”

“As I speak with Mayors across my district, one of their main priorities is greater dedicated transportation funding,” said Rep. Schrier. “The 8th district is made up of many small and medium-sized cities which are often overlooked when it comes to federal infrastructure funding despite playing critical roles in the greater regional economy. I am thankful for Rep. Larsen’s leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with our delegation to bring home this funding for Washington state.”

The BUILD grant program has boosted key infrastructure projects in Washington’s Second District. Last year, Larsen announced the Port of Everett received a $15.5 million BUILD grant to repurpose 58 acres of land on the City of Everett’s waterfront to increase economic competitiveness. In July 2016, the Port of Everett was awarded a $10 million competitive grant through the TIGER program to help complete the South Terminal Modernization Project. In 2015, the Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal project received $10 million through the TIGER program after Larsen wrote a letter of support.

“The City of Mountlake Terrace applauds Congressman Larsen for his leadership on behalf of cities our size,” said Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright. “Rep. Larsen understands that communities like Mountlake Terrace require federal funding partners to make the necessary infrastructure improvements to manage regional growth. The BUILD Up Act is a needed boost to our local efforts as we prepare for light rail coming to our community in 2024.”

“The BUILD Up funding will lay the foundation to provide much needed infrastructure to support the growth in providing affordable and diverse housing options in the City of Anacortes,” said Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere. “For our long-term economic success, we must provide safe and reliable infrastructure that will allow us to retain and attract new businesses, create a strong workforce, encourage economic development in our thriving maritime industry, and foster the regional nexus to Skagit, Island, and San Juan County.”

“The City of Sedro-Woolley supports the efforts of Congressman Larsen to enact the BUILD UP program,” said Sedro-Woolley Mayor Julia Johnson. “The current BUILD program has been a great vehicle for funding large scale projects nationwide, but unfortunately does not fit the kind of projects we require at our level.  We find ourselves in the position of needing significant transportation corridor improvements to deal with growth within and near the city and also to deal with increasing through traffic on State Routes 20 and 9 which bisect the city.  The estimated cost of the corridor project is $34 million, which greatly exceeds the financial ability of our city, yet is vitally needed to support these regionally significant improvements.  The proposed BUILD UP program would fill a gap in funding availability for mid-sized cities such as Sedro-Woolley, with our population of 11,700.  We appreciate the efforts of Congressman Larsen to create a path for funding these improvements at the federal level.”

“The BUILD UP program funding will allow the City of Anacortes to engage in multiple projects with a regional impact that wouldn’t be built otherwise due to the size of our city and the scale of the project,” said Anacortes Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer. “Projects such as the South Commercial Avenue would build on efforts to improve and elevate safety on State Route 20 to the gateway of the San Juan Islands, our downtown business district, and natural deep water port. Adding much needed infrastructure attention at critical intersections, improving economic development through our freight corridor, bike and pedestrian byways, ADA improvements, and enhancing stormwater runoff would enhance quality of life.”

The following cities would be eligible for the BUILD grant set-aside under Larsen’s legislation:

 

Chelan County                                                          Grays Harbor County

Wenatchee                                                                  Aberdeen

 

Clallam County                                                         King County

Port Angeles                                                               Auburn

                                                                                    Burien

Island County                                                            Enumclaw

Camano                                                                       Issaquah

Oak Harbor                                                                 Kenmore

                                                                                    Kirkland

Kitsap County                                                           Lake Forest Park

Bainbridge Island                                                       Maple Valley

Bremerton                                                                   Redmond

Port Orchard                                                               Sammamish

                                                                                    Shoreline

Kittitas County                                                          Woodinville

Ellensburg                                                                              

 

Skagit County                                                           Pierce County

Anacortes                                                                    Bonney Lake

Mount Vernon

Sedro-Woolley

 

Snohomish County                                                   Whatcom County     

Arlington                                                                     Ferndale

Bothell                                                                        Lynden

Edmonds                                                                    

Lake Stevens

Lynnwood                                                                 

Marysville                                                                  

Mill Creek                                                                  

Monroe                                                                       

Mountlake Terrace

Mukilteo

 

To read the BUILD UP Act, click here.

To learn more about the BUILD program, click here.

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