By Devin Higgins, March 3, 2015, iFiber One News
The Port of Moses Lake is one step closer to having industrial rail return to the Grant County International Airport.
The Washington State Senate passed their $15 billion transportation package for improvements and programs for highways, public transit and railroads on Monday.
The package passed 27-22 and will be financed by an incremental 11.7 cent increase in the state gasoline tax over the next 16 years.
The Port of Moses Lake stands to receive $20.9 million from the package for the rail project, which has been in the works since 1999.
Executive Director Jeffrey Bishop was happy with the news, but remains cautiously optimistic as the package moves to the House of Representatives.
“Considering what it would mean for the local economy and development at the port, we’re obviously excited that the senate approved the deal, but this is just the first step in the process. We have a saying for things like this which is, ‘Don’t count your chickens before the check clears,’” Bishop said.
The transportation package is expected to face stronger resistance in the House, where majority leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said he will block its passage until the legislature addresses the issues with education.
“One of the biggest problems is the Senate Republicans vote to move nearly $1 billion in transportation project sales tax dollars from the operating budget to the transportation budget. It moves us in the wrong direction and away from meeting our requirement of amply funding our schools,” Sullivan stated.
Bishop expects the House will delay a vote on the transportation package until the end of the current legislative session on April 30.