What the infrastructure bill could mean for Snohomish County

EVERETT – The federal infrastructure bill is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for projects across Snohomish County.

Sections of the $ 550 billion infrastructure investment and employment bill could go towards replacing chassis in the U.S. 2, low-emission and zero-emission buses and ferries, removing level crossings in Edmonds and Marysville, and securing the light rail to Everett.

“The $ 381 million in this bill for Sound Transit and additional funds for transportation companies will help fill the ongoing funding gap that Sound Transit has faced since the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” said Senator Maria Cantwell. “Getting further into Snohomish County is a must.”

It is estimated that replacing the trestle to the west will cost over $ 1 billion, but legislative funding has proven difficult. Two pots of money on the bill – $ 36.7 billion to repair and replace bridges and $ 5 billion for “mega-projects” that don’t exactly match transportation finance programs – could help tie that link between Everett and Lake Stevens to restore.

Based on past funding formulas, $ 1.79 billion could boost the state’s public transportation companies. Sound Transit, which serves Counties of King, Pierce and Snohomish, could receive $ 381 million for maintenance backlogs, capital projects and the scheduled construction of the light rail to Everett and Tacoma.

Community Transit could use the billed $ 89 million to expand the Swift bus express transit system and purchase zero-emission buses, spokesman Martin Munguia said in an email. Everett Transit may have received $ 7 million, according to Cantwell’s office. If the city received that money, it would go into more electric buses to replace the fleet’s diesel and hybrid diesel touring buses, as well as a wireless charging station, said spokesman Julio Cortes.

“In general, this infrastructure package will be helpful as Community Transit continues to build equitable transportation to accommodate Snohomish County’s growth,” said Munguia.

Everett executives also hope to see bridge replacements, other transportation improvements, and infrastructure funds for water and sanitation companies.

The bill also provides $ 3 billion for the removal of level crossings. Cantwell, a resident of Edmonds, cited a 2016 incident where a person died after running onto the tracks in front of an approaching train. The locomotive stood for nearly three hours blocking both Dayton and Main Street junctions.

“It literally had first responders crawling through the cars to help a pregnant woman who was born,” Cantwell said in March.

A report she authored then found that repairing fewer than half of the 50 top priority crossings in Washington would cost over $ 830 million. Edmonds and Marysville are both identified as priority intersections. The separation of traffic from the railroad has long been a concern of Marysville, but the solutions are too expensive for the city alone.

“As with most funding opportunities, if this is a viable option and the funding program meets our project needs, we will seek funding,” Marysville spokeswoman Connie Mennie said in an email. The city’s priority is building level crossings on Grove Street and 156th Street NE.

Improving the fish passage accounts for about $ 1.5 billion of the bill. Cantwell has set aside $ 1 billion for the National Culvert Removal Removal, Replacement and Restoration Grant Program, and an additional $ 400 million is earmarked for a new community-based recovery program focused on removing fish barriers.

State authorities are obliged by court order to make road crossings passable for fish again.

There are 3,965 freeway junctions in fish-rich waters in the state, according to a June report by the Washington State Department of Transportation. More than half are barriers for the fish passage, including 2,040 culverts that are not adequately dimensioned.

Snohomish County owns and is responsible for 1,731 river-crossing culverts. Of these, 327 are partial barriers and 209 are total barriers, said Meghan Jordan of Snohomish County Public Works.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with the county on a complete inventory of the county’s culverts this year. The county estimates that it will cost between $ 300,000 and $ 1 million to replace each fish barrier culvert.

Because the federal funds are distributed through grants, the county draws up a list of priority projects and determines what construction work can begin in the next two years to improve its chances of raising funds.

There is also $ 71 million going towards expanding the electric vehicle (EV) charging network nationwide.

“Ultimately, the bill would give the PUD the ability to build on our current electric plan, but it wouldn’t change our overall philosophy,” said PUD spokesman Aaron Swaney. “We will continue to focus on building a community of EV drivers, optimizing the grid for EV charging, and enabling EV adoption through incentives, pilots and tariffs.”

Energy efficiency funding would help some of the district’s low-income customers, schools, and labor training programs.

The bill also aims to narrow the digital divide with $ 65 billion for broadband, which the PUD and a consulting firm are investigating.

Airports are a different arena.

The bill includes $ 15 billion for the national airport improvement grant program, with an estimated $ 384.7 million to be distributed over five years through existing funding formulas at Washington airports.

Paine Field is expected to receive $ 16 million while Arlington Municipal Airport and Harvey Field in Snohomish will each receive $ 1.48 million.

Airports would have the flexibility to use the money not only on projects like runway maintenance, but also on broader needs like building terminals and gates, multimodal projects and low-emission ground vehicles, according to the bill.

“We welcome the news of this new federal investment,” said Arif Ghouse, director of Paine Field, Everett, in a statement. “Paine Field is a major mode of transportation, responsible for nearly $ 60 billion in annual economic activity. Investing in Paine Field will help us support our tenants and the economic success of our entire region. “

The ports of Everett and Edmonds reckon with $ 6.25 billion in two buckets. These funds, which are awarded under a competitive grant procedure, can be used for the maintenance and modernization of port facilities.

“This package would be great for ports as it supports existing programs and enables more investment and upgrading of seaport facilities and supply chain logistics,” said Lisa Lefeber, chief executive officer and executive director of the Port of Everett.

The bill also includes some pilot programs that Snohomish County participants could be involved in.

For example, there is money for a pilot program for a vehicle mile usage fee. It will be of a national scope and will look for volunteers from all 50 states.

Ben Watanabe: [email protected]; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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The federal infrastructure bill will likely include money to replace the westbound US-2 goat seen here on the right between Everett and Lake Stevens on Thursday.  (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The federal infrastructure bill will likely include funds to replace the westbound US-2 goat seen here on the right between Everett and Lake Stevens on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

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