Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca, May 4, 2014, Marine Link
Washington’s citizens could see mobility improvements in highways, ferries and freight rail if the state’s three capital grant applications are selected to receive a portion of the $600 million available nationwide in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) also submitted three applications this week for planning proposals that support economic development, environmental resiliency and integrated transportation choices. Of the $600 million available in TIGER grant funds, $35 million is dedicated to transportation-facilities planning.
WSDOT’s proposed capital projects would:
Improve intersections adjacent to Interstate 82 in Benton County.
Replace the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal in Snohomish County.
Rehabilitate a section of short line rail on the PCC System to provide a link with other rail and market options.
WSDOT’s planning proposals include working with local partners to:
Create an investment strategy to support economic development along the Interstate 5 corridor between Ferndale and Bellingham.
Determine actions necessary to address flooding and loss of habitat along the Yakima River.
Guide future development to improve multimodal connections and improve transportation access along the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Lynnwood.
The TIGER grant-selection criteria include capital or planning projects that improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems; contribute to economic competitiveness and creating jobs; and increase transportation choices and access, especially in economically challenged areas.
Applicants are eligible to receive a minimum of $10 million ($1 million for rural areas) and a maximum of $200 million for one project. However, no more than $150 million will be awarded to projects in a single state. There is no minimum or maximum award amount for planning projects; however, only $35 million is available nationwide. Awards are expected to be announced this fall.
Project descriptions and grant application dollar amounts are as follows:
Red Mountain – Improving Connections for Economic Development – This project will build key intersection improvements adjacent to I-82 in Benton County near Benton City. The project replaces the existing stop-controlled intersection of State Route 224 and State Route 225 with a roundabout, incorporating the I-82 westbound ramps for better traffic movement on and off the interstate. An existing park and ride lot will be relocated away from the intersection area, doubling the available parking spots and adding a dedicated transit stop. This project will also improve access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation; promote economic opportunities and provide the critical connections to move people and goods; and enhance the quality of life within Benton County. WSDOT is seeking $3.5 million to construct this project.
Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal – This project will replace the aging and seismically vulnerable Mukilteo Ferry Terminal with a new facility that improves efficiency, safety and multimodal connections. The existing terminal is inadequate and difficult for passengers to access. It is plagued by traffic congestion, safety concerns, and conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The new Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal will feature separated loading for pedestrians, dedicated loading for bicycles and carpools, a bus transit center with multiple bays, and improved connections to the adjacent commuter rail station. WSDOT is seeking $12.1 million to construct this project.
Connecting the Inland Pacific Hub Multimodal Centers to the Global Marketplace –In partnership with Highline Grain, LLC, WSDOT will rehabilitate 6.9 miles of the Central Washington Branch of the state-owned Palouse River & Coulee City Rail System. Rehabilitating this section of short line railroad will provide a critical link between the BNSF Railway and the Highline Grain Terminal, a privately owned facility. It also provides a link with the Geiger Spur, a Spokane County-owned asset serving an industrial area designated for future growth. This project will not only support the existing industries in the area but also greatly improve the opportunities for future growth by providing the option of reliable rail transport linking the west plains area of Spokane with world markets. WSDOT is seeking $6 million to construct this project.
Cascade Gateway Integrated Investment Strategy Supporting Economic Development – This regional planning grant proposal will build on nearly 10 years of planning and project development in Whatcom County, and more than $250 million in construction projects already completed. The planning study will allow the development of an integrated investment strategy to support projected economic development along the I-5 corridor between Ferndale and Bellingham and create opportunities such as improved modal transportation connectivity within the urban area and across I-5, which now imposes a barrier to pedestrians, bicyclists and transit service as well as vehicular traffic including freight mobility. WSDOT is seeking $250,000 to fund this planning effort.
Central Kittitas Valley Integrated Resiliency Planning – This planning effort will allow WSDOT and local partners to complete design and environmental documentation for planned improvements in Kittitas County and the city of Ellensburg. Improvements will enhance the area’s economic and environmental resiliency. The intent is to build upon the nearly $9.5 million in improvements underway or have been completed in the area. The planning effort will determine the actions critical to combat increased Yakima River flooding and loss of habitat by restoring floodplains and flood function. Work would reduce flood impacts and disruptions to the transportation network, and improve traffic movement through the economic gateway of the central Kittitas Valley. WSDOT is seeking $500,000 to fund this planning effort.
Greening Interchanges with Multimodal Redevelopment – Seattle to Lynnwood – This planning study will deliver plans to integrate three elements: transit oriented development; accessibility enhancements for transit, cyclists and pedestrians; and environmental enhancements for future light rail stations at three I-5 interchanges. Plans produced from this study will guide future public and private development to improve multimodal connections between where people live, work and go to school; and
provide better access for people with special transportation needs and economically disadvantaged populations. WSDOT is seeking $720,000 to fund this planning effort.