Washington state stands to reap long-term benefits from improved commuter and freight mobility, cleaner air and more transportation choices if its projects are selected to receive a portion of the $527 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER III) grant funds.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) this week submitted applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for projects in Pierce, King and San Juan counties. These projects add capacity and real-time motorist information along a bottleneck on Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord; improve connectivity and accessibility to future light rail, transit and bicycle and pedestrian pathways near the State Route 520 corridor; and replaces the propulsion system in the state ferry Hyak with a modern, hybrid propulsion system that will increase fuel efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“In the short-term, these projects would potentially put hundreds of people to work, and in the long-term help our state’s economy, our environment and increase livability within our communities,” said state WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond. “With reduced state transportation revenues, these federal grants are more important than ever to keep the progress we’ve made with investments in our transportation system moving forward.”
The TIGER III grants selection criteria includes projects that create near-term jobs and economic benefits. The criteria also calls for projects that demonstrate significant long-term benefits as measured by condition, enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness, livability, sustainability and safety. USDOT will review and score each project through a competitive process. States are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $131 million in TIGER III grants. Awards will be announced by the end of 2011. This year, DOT received about 1,000 applications, including at least one from every state.
I-5 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Area Congestion Mitigation — Pierce County: The grant request is for $27.2 million to improve traffic flow on 15.5 miles of I-5 from SR 510 in Thurston County to SR 512 in Pierce County. The project will help reduce congestion through the use of technology, including ramp metering, active traffic management and improved signalization. It also increases capacity by allowing vehicles to drive on the shoulders between on- and off-ramps during peak commute hours.
Montlake Triangle Project — King County: WSDOT is partnering with Sound Transit and the University of Washington to build transit, bicycle and pedestrian improvements as part of the Montlake Triangle Project. When complete, the new Montlake Triangle will be a multimodal transit and pedestrian hub that connects Sound Transit Link light rail, SR 520 transit riders and University of Washington students, employees and visitors. WSDOT is requesting a $15 million TIGER III grant to complete its contribution to the $43 million project.
Hyak Hybrid Ferry Propulsion Project — San Juan County: This grant request is for $10 million to convert the M/V Hyak’s diesel propulsion system to a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. The hybrid battery system will optimize the vessel’s power management by using only the generators required, augmented by batteries for low-power demands. This project will create the first hybrid auto-passenger ferry powered by a combination of batteries and generators. The new system will be energy-efficient and bring substantial environmental benefits to the region while creating jobs and helping to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This project will reduce fuel consumption on the M/V Hyak by an estimated 16 percent (234,000 gallons), cut greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent and particulates by 24 percent annually. Over the vessel’s remaining 19 years of useful life, this translates to a fuel savings of 4.8 million gallons and nearly 47 metric tons of greenhouse gas CO2 equivalent.
For more information about the Tiger III Grant Program, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Funding/Tiger3 .