Cantwell, WA Delegation to Department of Transportation: WA State Needs Emergency Relief After Severe Storms, Floods

Severe storms caused heavy flooding across the state, resulting in mudslides and loss of power

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Reps. Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, and Dan Newhouse sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, urging the Department of Transportation to quickly approve emergency relief funding to repair heavy damage to roadways in Washington state from storms occurring November 30 through December 8. The severe weather caused incidents state-wide ranging from flooding to mudslides, resulting in property damage and blocked roadways.

We urge you to grant the State of Washington’s ER funding request as quickly as possible to ensure our constituents have safe and uninterrupted access to these critical roadways,” the members wrote in their letter.

Full text of the letter:

December 11, 2015


The Honorable Anthony R. Foxx


U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

We write to urge you to expeditiously approve Emergency Relief (ER) program funding requested by the State of Washington to make emergency repairs to roadways and address damage caused by this week’s severe storms.

On December 9, 2015, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for all counties in Washington state as a result of a series of severe storms and hazardous weather conditions that occurred from November 30 through December 8. Heavy rainfall and strong winds have caused major flooding, saturated soils, landslides, mudslides, downed trees and power lines, stream bank and slope erosion, flying debris, standing water, and washouts.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is responding to more than 25 separate instances of blocked or damaged roadways across 13 counties due to this extreme weather, forcing our constituents to use alternate routes and detours. In some extreme cases, mudslides and flooding have completely isolated individual homes and neighborhoods. Interstate-5 (I-5) Northbound, approximately 20 miles north of Vancouver, was blocked by mudslide and debris for a day; and WSDOT was only able to open two lanes yesterday. In addition, the northbound I-5 off-ramp to Kalama (exit 30) remains closed due to flooding. U.S. Route 2 near Leavenworth remains closed due to a mudslide, and may reopen soon, and U.S. Route 2 has been reduced to one lane in both directions west of Stevens Pass due to another mudslide. A washout on both sides of White Pass on U.S. Route 12 has closed this section of roadway indefinitely and an extended closure is expected. In all, more than 15 closures have been cleared or reopened by WSDOT’s diligent road crews and at least seven state routes remain closed.

WSDOT estimates repairs to these roadways could reach at least $5 million, and the State of Washington has already requested $3 million in quick release ER funding to begin work immediately. We urge you to grant the State of Washington’s ER funding request as quickly as possible to ensure our constituents have safe and uninterrupted access to these critical roadways.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important request.