Funding for $2 million in intermodal freight improvements at the Port of Olympia’s international shipping terminal was included in the federal FY 2006 Transportation Appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funds will be used to continue the second phase of the Port’s Infrastructure Enhancement Project.
The funding was secured by Washington Senator Patty Murray and Representative Brian Baird. The legislation passed the Senate and House November 18 and now awaits the President’s signature.
“Senator Murray and Representative Baird have provided outstanding leadership to secure federal resources in a tight budget year to help us continue to improve the Port’s intermodal capacity,” said Port Commissioner Steve Pottle, who met with Members of Congress in Washington DC earlier this year. “These important improvements will significantly increase the Port’s ability to handle greater volumes of cargo by shifting cargo from truck to rail.”
Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Adam Smith also supported the funding request.
Senator Murray is the ranking minority member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, which was instrumental in drafting the legislation that includes the Port project. Earlier this year, Representative Baird used his position on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to secure $684,000 for the project in SAFETEA LU, the Safe Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. That legislation was signed by the President on August 10, 2005.
The Congressional Districts of Representative Baird and Representative Smith include the Port of Olympia.
The Port’s Intermodal Infrastructure Enhancement Project is a three-phase project that is designed to expand the Port’s capacity to handle greater volumes of cargo by shifting emphasis from trucks to rail. Completion of the project is expected to more than double the Port’s cargo-processing capacity and reduce its dependence on local roads, particularly the heavily congested I-5 corridor.
The new funding will provide for the construction of additional loading and storage track at the Marine Terminal, enabling the switching of railcars within Port boundaries and minimizing impacts on traffic in downtown Olympia. It will follow construction of the first phase of the project, currently under way, which adds and extends dock-side track, allowing the direct discharge of cargo from ships to rail cars. The Port will also examine a third phase, which will add track and barge loading facilities.
The Port has been working closely with Senators Murray and Cantwell and Representatives Baird and Smith on a strategy to secure federal funding and participation on critical projects that will benefit the Thurston County community and the Puget Sound region.
“We appreciate the work of our Washington DC delegation to secure funding for this project, which is so important to our community over the long-term,” said Pottle. “By leveraging federal dollars with local and state resources, we are able to provide significant economic development opportunities that will bring additional family wage jobs to Thurston County.”