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State’s TIGER IV applications support increased mobility, travel choices and international trade

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Date:  Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Contact: Jay Alexander, director, Capital Program, Development and Management, 360-705-7121 (Olympia)
Steve Pierce, communications director, 360-705-7076 (Olympia)

WSDOT seeks federal grants for three transportation improvement projects

OLYMPIA – Washington’s citizens will enjoy greater commuter and freight mobility, added transportation choices and improved border crossing times if the state’s projects are selected to receive a portion of the $500 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER IV) grant funds.

The Washington State Department of Transportation this week submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation for projects in King, Spokane and Whatcom counties.

These projects increase mobility for King and Pierce county commuters on State Route 167 by extending the high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes; remove a chokepoint for continuing the US 395 North Spokane Corridor construction and increase travel choices by extending a bicycle/pedestrian trail; and widen SR 539 in Lynden to provide a dedicated NEXUS lane for pre-approved, low-risk travelers and additional capacity for future full-service freight processing at the Canadian border.

“In an environment where continued federal transportation funding is uncertain, these grant programs keep us moving forward on critical projects that are important to our state’s economy,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “These projects create immediate jobs while building the infrastructure needed for continued growth in business and trade.”

The TIGER IV grants selection criteria includes projects that create near-term jobs and economic benefits. Projects will also be evaluated on primary criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental sustainability, condition and short-term job creation.

USDOT will review and score each project through a competitive process. States are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $125 million in TIGER IV grants. Awards are expected to be announced by early June.

WSDOT’s TIGER IV grant application projects and request amounts are:

SR 167/8th Street East to 277th Street vicinity HOT lane expansion – Pierce and King counties: This grant request would complete the funding needed for expansion of the existing SR 167 HOT lanes from nine miles to nearly 14 miles in both directions. The new segments will connect King and Pierce county communities to major employment hubs and advance the project’s schedule by two years. This project will reduce area congestion while improving freight mobility in the communities of Auburn, Algona and Pacific. A new northbound HOT lane would be built from the Pierce County line to SR 18 in King County and a southbound HOT lane from South 277th Street to the Pierce County line. The grant request is for $15 million.

US 395/North Spokane Corridor – BNSF Railroad Structures/Realignment – Spokane County: Project work will remove a choke point, allowing continued construction of the North Spokane Corridor. This includes relocating 7.5 miles of BNSF mainline, switching and spur rail tracks near the Freya Street interchange. Two new structures will carry future freeway traffic over the BNSF tracks, and an existing 5.5-mile bicycle/pedestrian trail will be extended for more than one mile to serve the Hillyard neighborhood. The project includes a bike/pedestrian crossing over the BNSF mainline and Freya Street to reduce the risk of pedestrian and bicycle collisions with trains and vehicles. The grant request is for $18.9 million.

SR 539/Lynden – Aldergrove Port of Entry Improvements – Whatcom County: This project supports the Lynden-Aldergrove port of entry expansion at the U.S.-Canada border by widening SR 539 from H Street to the international border. Work will add a dedicated NEXUS lane and reserve additional capacity for future full-service freight processing. The Canada Border Service Agency is replacing its obsolete, 40-year old building and quadrupling the size of its inspection facility. The SR 539 highway improvements will complement this new facility, reducing border-crossing wait-times and improving traffic flows for passenger and commercial vehicles to facilitate Washington exports and Canadian retail activity in Washington state. This grant request is for $6.9 million

WSDOT has been successful in recent federal grant competitions, capturing federal grant dollars including:

  • $791 million for improvements to the Cascade Rail Corridor between Vancouver, Wash., and the Canadian border
  • $15 million to improve traffic flow on I-5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord
  • $35 million to build a 3.7 mile segment of US 395 North Spokane Corridor
  • $8.5 million for ferry terminal seismic improvements and preservation of eight vessels

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