February 27, 2011

ARRA funds finally coming to Washington!

AAWA is delighted contracts have been signed among involved parties and the long-time granted $591 million ARRA (“Stimulus”) funds for the Washington state’s portion of our Northwest Passenger Rail Corridor will soon be putting people to work building valuable transportation infrastructure and hopefully securing more trains. Ever since the Obama Administration announced their commitment toward significant investment in passenger rail service, working for our state getting an appropriate share, based on merit, and then urging the Feds to get our grant formally obligated to WSDOT, has been the most important single chore the Olympia office of AAWA has undertaken.

While the persistent advocacy of AAWA and others we believe has been helpful, we offer thanks and congratulations to our Congressional delegation, especially Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, to Governor Gregiore , WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond and her staff, to several members of our Legislature, to the excellent partnership of WSDOT, BNSF, Amtrak, Talgo, and rail labor, a rapidly growing Amtrak Cascades ridership, supportive communities and businesses, and particularly for years of hard and excellent work by the WSDOT Rail and Marine Division.

Worth mentioning: While three Republican governors have spurned the share of the ARRA rail funds their predcessors had worked for (to our benefit, it seems!), and a segment of the GOP nationally now seems hostile to public investments in passenger rail, many Washington state Republicans, legislative and others, join Democrats in active support and celebration for the Evergreen State’s moving forward on steel rails.