Top FHWA official says unfinished Spokane project proves need for long-term highway bill

Updated May 30, 2015
Crews work on a portion of the project in 2009. Credit: WSDOT FlickrCrews work on a portion of the project in 2009. Credit: WSDOT Flickr

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s acting administrator toured the incomplete North Spokane Corridor last week and said the half-built project shows why the federal government needs to act on long-term transportation funding.

After touring the NSC, Gergory Nadeau said the project “exemplifies exactly what has been happening all over the country.” About half of the NSC project is complete, but there is just no funding to finish it.

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“The bad news is that—after 33 short-term, underinvesting extensions by Congress—we still don’t have the federal funding to complete the NSC. Or to complete thousands of other projects like it across the country. Or to even start the thousands of other projects communities have planned to meet their most pressing transportation needs,” Nadeau said in a blog post.

According to the Spokesman Review, construction crews are currently working on bridges and new rail lines for the project, but there is no funding to link to the new freeway. Washington Department of Transportation officials said it would cost about $750 million to link the new freeway to Interstate 90.

Nadeau said the project would be good for the Spokane area by easing congestion and improving safety. He said the White House’s Grow America Act would be able help fund the NSC and similar projects across the country.

Washington Transportation Secretary told the Spokesman Review that she’s hopeful that the state’s Legislature will agree on a gas tax increase to help provide $15 billion over three years for projects like the NSC.