Cantwell, Murray Announce Award of $9.9 Million for Moses Lake Infrastructure Project

Funding made possible through Cantwell-created grant program that improves freight infrastructure, bolsters local manufacturing

Grant is expected to help generate around 13,000 new family-wage jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that the Port of Moses Lake has received $9.9 million to complete the Northern Columbia Basin Railroad Project, which expands rail access to vital industries in the northern Columbia Basin.

Specifically, the grant will assist the Port in building, expanding, and upgrading Columbia Basin Railroad lines around the Wheeler Industrial Corridor and industrial lands near Grant County International Airport as well as connect to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway mainline. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Columbia Basin Railroad is the busiest short line railroad in Eastern Washington.

The new and improved rail lines will help retain local manufacturers, provide opportunities for business expansion, and attract new industries. The project is expected to help generate around 13,000 new family-wage jobs throughout the Columbia Basin by increasing the efficiency of moving manufactured goods.

“Ensuring the Port of Moses Lake can expand rail infrastructure is critical to bolstering the area’s manufacturing industry, expanding economic opportunity, and creating good paying jobs,” Senator Cantwell said. “This project has capacity to create 13,000 new jobs in our region as a result of the increased efficiency of freight moving through the Columbia Basin. We will continue the work to improve our infrastructure to reduce delays in freight movement to continue to grow jobs and advance the Pacific Northwest’s leadership in the global economy.”

“This investment is great news for the Moses Lake community, and I commend the Port for submitting a strong application. This will further work that is already underway to spur economic growth and create jobs in central Washington. I am proud to fight to make sure the federal government does its part as we work at all levels to support investments in our infrastructure that make a real difference to families, workers, and communities in Washington state,” said Senator Murray.

“So many of the Port’s business development and job growth opportunities are tied to rail. That is why we appreciate the support of Senators Cantwell and Murray on this important grant application,” said Jeffrey Bishop, Executive Director of the Port of Moses Lake.

Both Senators Cantwell and Murray sent a letter of support to the U.S. Department of Transportation, asking them to fully fund the grant.

The $9.9 million award was made possible by a program created by Senator Cantwell, the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program (formerly known as FASTLANE). The grants provide funding for projects of national or regional significance that increase safety and reduce congestion, including railway, sea seaport, and highway projects, such as highway-rail separations.

The Port of Moses Lake award is the third INFRA grant in Washington state and the second highest dollar amount. In 2016, Senators Cantwell and Murray announced two INFRA grants in Washington state: $45 million for the City of Seattle to complete the South Lander Street grade separation and railroad safety project; and $5 million for the City of Tukwila to address the bottleneck of train, truck, and car traffic on Strander Boulevard.

Multimodal freight transportation is critical to Washington state’s economy, with 44 percent of Washington state jobs dependent on freight. For every billion dollars of freight investment, it is estimated that 20,000 jobs are created.  The American Society of Civil Engineers has said that a failure to adequately invest in our infrastructure could cost the country more than 875,000 jobs.

Without targeted investment in our multimodal freight infrastructure, the United States could lose out to its Canadian competitors. Canada has dedicated $1.4 billion to upgrading its national freight network, specifically focused on the Pacific trade gateways.