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Infrastructure bill to bring billions to Northwest in transportation, wildfire, water funds

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Most of the Pacific Northwest’s Congressional delegation supported the long-awaited infrastructure package approved by Congress on Friday. The bill will increase funding for projects in Washington state, such as railroad crossings, public transit and wildfire prevention.

Washington’s share includes $384 million-dollars for airports, including Spokane and Pullman-Moscow, more than $600 million for bridge repairs, and nearly $5 million in highway funds. The spending package also includes several billion dollars for wildfire prevention, detection, fighting and rehabilitation for areas that have already burned.

In a floor speech before the vote, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said the money will allow the state to tackle projects necessary to keep the economy strong.

“Many states in the United States are in need of an infrastructure investment,” she said, “But, I would put the state of Washington high on the list of states that desperately need infrastructure investment. We’ve been blessed with a growing economy, a big trade economy based on the Pacific rim and the actions of the Pacific rim. We need to keep moving products, we need to keep moving services and we need infrastructure investment to do so.”

Amtrak, electric grid and public transportation investments are also included in the bill. It does not include social service infrastructure, which is part of a larger package still before Congress.

The bill, which allocates $550 billion dollars in new spending over five years, was supported by all Democrats from the Pacific Northwest and Idaho’s two Republican senators.

House Republicans from the Pacific Northwest, including Washington Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse and  Jaime Herrera Beutler voted against the bill.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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