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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is investing in 21 additional highway and ferry projects worth an estimated $112 million that can now be constructed across the state due to project savings and low bids on other highway improvements, according to a written press statement released on Sept. 14 from the state agency.
WSDOT plans to award the contracts this fall and start construction in the spring, creating or supporting an estimated 580 jobs, according to the repot.
More than a year of favorable bids on state and federally funded projects has saved the state millions on highway improvements. Pooling project savings and making program adjustments made this funding available for additional projects.
“We carefully spend our share of federal gas taxes on projects across the state, and recent low bids on projects put money back into the bucket to be spent on even more projects,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond in a written statement “Our tax dollars are going further, and we are working hard to spend them wisely to put people to work in parts of the state where the work is needed most.”
WSDOT will use the bulk of the money to preserve and repair aging highways, including repaving part of I-5 near Bellingham and I-90 near Spokane. Funds also will pave rural highways in eastern Washington.
“This is why we were so excited about the federal stimulus funds a year ago. We not only put people to work, we were able to do these projects at a time when costs are lower,” said state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10th District), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “This has allowed us to keep up with our transportation needs despite the shrinking revenues from our gas tax.”
Projects will upgrade and replace high-tech traffic controllers in the Puget Sound region and repair ferry terminals in Anacortes, Mukilteo and Edmonds. Safety improvements to prevent cross-over collisions are planned on SR 17 near Moses Lake, and additional lanes on I-90 will help ease congestion in Spokane Valley.
“Taxpayers expect us to use money wisely to maintain our highways and make them safer,” said state Rep. Judy Clibborn, (D-41st District), chair of the House Transportation Committee. “When these projects are awarded this fall and construction starts next spring, you’ll see contractors working to make the roads better for drivers and signing paychecks that pump more money into the economy.”