Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Transportation stimulus projects approved by House and Senate today

To create jobs as soon as possible, the Legislature wasted no time in passing legislation today that appropriates $341 million in federal stimulus funds for transportation construction projects, expected to generate 3,300 jobs across the state.

House Bill 1978, sponsored by Rep. Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island), was approved by the House in a 67-28 vote this morning, before being sent to the Senate, where it passed 45-4 this afternoon. It now goes to the Governor’s desk for approval, expected Thursday afternoon.

“A vote today is a vote for jobs,” Clibborn said on the House floor. Since half of the funds must be obligated within four months and the rest within the year, legislative leaders expect it to provide an immediate economic boost. In addition to creating jobs, the projects on the list address congestion, improve safety and preserve roads.

The state’s $341 million isn’t the only federal stimulus money coming to Washington. Local jurisdictions are directly receiving $151 million for road use and $179 million for transit. Also on the table is $18 billion in federal grant money for which the Washington State Department of Transportation can apply. HB 1978 directs WSDOT to apply for as many grants as practically possible.

Governor Gregoire is expected to sign the bill tomorrow afternoon.