Billions of dollars in sorely needed funding for mass transit and infrastructure projects in Washington State will be included in the Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill now moving to the full United States Senate, Patty Murray’s office announced today.
“Today, a bipartisan group of senators came together to reject [Donald] Trump’s short-sighted cuts to the kinds of investments that make a real difference to families and workers in Washington state and around the country,” Senator Murray said in a press release. “Whether it’s infrastructure investment, affordable housing, education, or medical research, I will keep fighting to make sure the federal government continues to be a good partner to the communities we represent.”
Courtesy of Murray’s office, here’s a rundown of some of the vital projects that were protected in the version of the bill approved by the Appropriations Committee:
- Capital Investment Grant Program: $2.1 billion, rejecting President Trump’s proposal to block new transit projects from receiving funding, and instead supporting three transit projects in Puget Sound, including Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension and Seattle Department of Transportation’s Center City Connector Streetcar and Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit.
- Amtrak: $1.2 billion to support long-distance routes, including the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder that run through Washington, which Donald Trump sought to terminate.
- Crude-by-rail Safety Initiatives:
- $15.9 million for the Automated Track Inspection Program, Railroad Safety Information System, and research and development,
- $2 million for the Short Line Safety Institute for safety training for short line railroads transporting crude oil and ethanol, a program Sen. Murray helped create in 2014 and which supports short line railroads in Washington,
- $2 million for tank car research activities, and
- Directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a rulemaking to expand comprehensive oil spill response plan requirements to rail carriers no later than 5 days after enactment of this bill to better protect the safety of our communities and environment.
There’s also $550 million to continue the TIGER program (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) which has come to the rescue of more than a dozen high profile transportation infrastructure projects in Washington State, like the South Park bridge replacement effort.
It is a huge relief to hear that Senator Murray was able to secure funding for Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link expansion, the Central City Connector Streetcar, and Amtrak long distance routes. The other appropriations are certainly wins too, but our region was really going to suffer if funding for train service was pulled.
The Trump regime’s attempts to gut funding for transit fly in the face of Donald’s rhetoric during the presidential campaign, when he talked about (and campaigned on) putting money into infrastructure. America has a massive infrastructure deficit, which would be badly exacerbated by the regime’s desired budget cuts.
Thankfully, we have senators like Patty Murray who are standing up to the regime and fighting for the investments that we need.
As Trump doesn’t have line item veto power, he will either have to accept or reject the Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill when it gets to him. He won’t be able to mark it up himself.