Washington State Lawmakers Announce $73.6 Million Grant for Puget Sound Gateway Program

Funding will help enhance freight movement and economic competitiveness, decrease congestion

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate transportation committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D, WA-09), Denny Heck (D, WA-10), Derek Kilmer (D, WA-06), Pramila Jayapal (D, WA-07), and Kim Schrier, M.D., (D, WA-08) announced today that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will receive $73.6 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) INFRA grant program for the Puget Sound Gateway Program freight infrastructure project.

“This investment couldn't come at a better time,” Senator Cantwell said. “Freight movement and congestion have plagued Puget Sound for years and with the West Seattle bridge down, alternative routes for freight are an even bigger priority. The $73 million dollar Gateway Program investment will establish an actual freight corridor along SR 167 and SR 509 to help agricultural products and manufactured goods get to port without going on I-5.”

“From the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to agricultural hubs in Central and Eastern Washington, this funding will reverberate across Washington state by helping facilitate the transport of goods, reduce congestion, and keep our state competitive in an increasingly global economy,” Senator Murray said. “I’m excited to see the positive impact that this project will have in Puget Sound and beyond, and I’m going to continue to fight for Washington state’s transportation and infrastructure priorities at the federal level.”

“Our state has invested more than $1.5 billion in the Puget Sound Gateway Program because we know its completion is essential to advancing our economy and moving Washington forward,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “Particularly as we grapple with an unprecedented economic downturn, this program is vital to supporting job growth and advancing our economic competitiveness — improving freight connections, regional mobility and airport access. We are grateful to Washington’s Congressional Delegation for their work in securing these critical funds, which will help us carry this important program across the finish line.”

"Investments in our infrastructure support continued economic development and provide job opportunities throughout the Puget Sound region," said Representative Smith. "This $73 million grant for the Puget Sound Gateway Project will fund desperately needed improvements to major highways that will improve regional mobility, spur economic growth, and enhance sustainability and safety. I look forward to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s continued progress on this project that will benefit millions of people in the state of Washington."

"The completion of SR 167 has long been a priority of mine, as it will improve freight mobility to and from the Port of Tacoma,” said Representative Heck. “This will open up new economic opportunities for the South Sound and create thousands of jobs throughout the region. The $73.6 million in federal grants for the Puget Sound Gateway Program will help make our communities more interconnected and transportation more efficient."

“Increasing the federal government’s investment in infrastructure in our region will help speed commerce at the port, help our region move goods faster to their final destinations, and support quality, good-paying jobs,” said Representative Kilmer. “I look forward to continuing to work with local, regional, and federal partners to keep our economy moving.” 

“This infrastructure grant is an investment in Washington’s farmers and growers, workers and producers, businesses and communities, and our entire region and economy,” said Representative Jayapal. “The Puget Sound Gateway Program will directly support the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which maintains more than 58,000 jobs and processes the most refrigerated exports—including fruits and vegetables grown right here in Washington—of any trade gateway in the United States.”

“Washington’s economy depends on crops grown in central Washington that are sold across the country and the world,” said Representative Schrier. “For too long, farmers and producers in the 8th district have had difficulty getting crops directly to market. The Puget Sound Gateway Program will make critical road improvements that will make it easier to get central Washington products to the ports in Seattle and Tacoma.”

“Building the ‘missing links’ of SR 509 and SR 167 to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will save time and money getting our products to trading partners throughout the world,” said Roger Millar, Washington’s Secretary of Transportation. “This federal grant, along with state and local contributions, will help close these key gaps in the nation’s freight highway network.”

The Puget Sound Gateway Program combines two smaller freight-focused transportation projects: extending SR 509 in King County and extending SR 167 in Pierce County. The extension of SR 509 will allow for a north-south alternative through Seattle and South King County, while forming a new southern access point for passengers and air cargo accessing Sea-Tac Airport. This addition will also provide an alternative route to I-5 from West Seattle, which is needed with the current closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

The SR 167 project will extend the highway from Puyallup into the Port of Tacoma, streamlining the transport of goods between the Port and key freight distribution centers in the Kent and Puyallup valleys. These enhancements will promote Washington state’s trade economy by connecting the state’s largest ports to important distribution centers in King and Pierce counties, as well as creating easier access for producers throughout Eastern Washington. The project will also help promote freight mobility and ease traffic congestion throughout the Puget Sound region. The first stage of construction kicked off on October 1, 2019.

The $73.6 million award was made through a grant program Cantwell created for freight mobility projects, which she authored in 2015 as part of the long-term transportation bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).  The grant program, now referred to as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program, is the first-ever multimodal freight grant program focused on freight mobility. INFRA grants provide funding for projects of national or regional significance including railway, seaport, and highway projects, such as highway-rail separations, to increase safety and reduce congestion.