Creating jobs and strengthening infrastructure--that's what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is meant to do. I've seen it working in 90 cities in 30 states during the last 18 months, and earlier this week, while helping break ground on two new projects, I saw it working in the state of Washington.
And if that infrastructure takes trucks off local roads, improves safety, unblocks freight congestion, leaves room for future high-occupancy transit, adds park-and-ride transit connections, and allows a bicycle-pedestrian trail connecting one community with others? Then that's yet another measure of the Recovery Act's effectiveness.
That's exactly what the North Spokane Corridor does. The completed six-lane North Side Freeway with interchanges for US 2 and US 395 will remove freight traffic from local streets and improve traffic flow dramatically. Eventually, the corridor will connect to I-90.
We may be talking about only 3.7 miles of southbound freeway lanes, but those few miles will make a world of difference. Spokane has waited more than 60 years to get this project rolling, and they would still be waiting if not for $35 million in Recovery Act money from our TIGER program.
In Seattle, I helped break ground on the Mercer Corridor, a $160.7 million project supported by $30 million in TIGER money from the Recovery Act.
The current one-way corridor is full of twists and turns, so much so that the 80,000 vehicles traveling the route each day are constantly stuck in bottlenecks. The project will create a two-way, six-lane urban boulevard with new sidewalks, improved transit connections, and bike lanes.
According to the Post-Intelligencer, an estimated 1,200 jobs are expected during the life of the project.
As US Senator Patty Murray said, "For those folks out there who are saying that the economic stimulus and
the work we've done hasn't created jobs, ask anyone here in a hard hat
what it means to them to be able to get a paycheck because of projects
just like this."
Unblocking the 40-year-old "Mercer Mess" is critical to the growing South Lake Union neighborhood, where businesses have been relocating and new housing has been built.
“Rebuilding the Mercer Corridor will provide both short and long term benefits to our economy by directly creating construction jobs, improving port and highway access, and significantly reducing commute time in an area that hosts some of the region’s most vital employers,” Senator Murray said.
Because of the Recovery Act, people in Spokane and Seattle will be able to get where they need to go--whether by car, transit, bike or walking--more quickly. Goods produced in the state of Washington will be able to get to market more efficiently. And construction workers will be on the job right away.