Friday, February 27, 2009

AN UPDATE FROM MY STATE REPRESENTATIVE HERE IN WASHINGTON STATE:

Dear Neighbors:

Last week, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The bill contains $326 billion in tax cuts and $463 billion in spending-- a total of $789 billion for the entire nation. Funding is targeted to many critical areas, including energy, community development and human services.

Here in Washington, we also received $671 million dedicated to transportation. Of the $492 million dedicated to highway projects, $151 million will go to local jurisdictions and $341 million is slated to be allocated by state government. Local jurisdictions are also set to receive $179 million directly for transit projects.

Also on the table is additional ARRA funding in the form of grant money for which states can apply. More than $11 billion in federal grants is available in project categories that include rail, ferries and highways.

This investment comes at a critical time. We know that an average of 10 jobs are created or retained for each $1 million in highway spending – meaning that this stimulus will not only provide needed highway improvements, but will also put thousands of people to work within three months, and keep thousands more on the job for a year or longer.

After working closely with the Obama Administration and Governor Gregoire, this week we introduced the 2009 Economic Stimulus Transportation Funding Act to appropriate Washington’s share of the federal economic recovery funds. A $341 million transportation proposal is a key piece of that measure. We will create 3,300 jobs across the state, put people to work and improve our state’s transportation infrastructure.

We have made sure that priority will be given to projects throughout the state that create jobs, improve freight mobility, enhance safety and meet shovel ready time-frames.

Here are some of the projects that will put people to work all over Washington:

· $56 million for long-overdue concrete and asphalt work on I-90 between Snoqualmie Summit and Ellensburg. This is an important freight route, and a critical link between eastern and western Washington.

· $70 million for I-5 HOV lanes in Pierce County, a critical north-south corridor that serves the entire West Coast.

· Nearly $12 million for US 395 paving improvements Spokane County

· Nearly $31 million to rebuild the Valley Mall Boulevard interchange at I-82 in Yakima

· $10 million to rebuild the SR 501/Ridgefield interchange

Projects in the 19th District include:

· Paving of I-5 near Castle Rock

· Painting the Washington side of the Astoria-Megler Bridge

· Paving a long strip of SR 103 on the Long Beach Peninsula

· Local projects to be determined



All told, nearly $150 million in projects will be in contractors’ hands within 90 days, another $71 million within 120 days, and the final $124 million within 360 days.


In addition to the projects funded by the federal stimulus, Washington is investing over $4 billion in other transportation projects all over our state in the next two years – thanks in large part to the citizens’ vote to uphold the 9.5 cent gas tax approved in 2005, and the 2003 nickel gas tax. These tax increases funded more than 400 projects all across the state over 16 years. As a result, the upcoming two years will see the biggest transportation construction season in our history, at a time when these jobs and investments are desperately needed.

A complete project list is available at the Washington State Department of Transportation website.

Washington State is ready to move forward. I am confident in our ability to work together to save or create thousands of jobs and improve our roads and bridges.

Please continue to send me your ideas. I appreciate all your support and look forward to hearing from you. Your voice keeps our democracy working.

Until next time,

Brian

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As Jim Hightower explains it, is that “the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans possess more net worth today than the bottom 90 percent of us combined. Worse, these privileged few and their political henchmen have structured a new economic ‘normal’ of long-term joblessness, low wages, no benefits or worker rights, miserly public services, and a steadily widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us.” We must restore sanity to this nation.