Transportation bill approved by Senate, includes $20 million for WSF

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray announced Friday she has helped secure up to $20 million annually in federal highway funds for Washington State Ferries as part of the larger transportation bill that found bipartisan compromise from House and Senate leaders this week.

The federal funding will help pay for ferry maintenance, terminal preservation projects including the Seattle terminal,  and equipment for the new 144-car vessels currently under construction.

The bill passed the Senate June 29 by a vote of 74-19 and was earlier passed in the House on a 373-52 vote. It will now go to President Obama for his signature.

Murray, who is chairwoman of the Senate's Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee, said the compromise will continue funding for transportation projects through Sept. 31, 2014.

The bill will provide more than $1.7 billion over two years for vital infrastructure projects in Washington.

"This critical funding for Washington State Ferries will help to maintain our ferries, fund current projects, and keep vessels in service," Murray said.

"We depend on ferries as part of our highway system, to commute to work and back home safely to our families," she added. "While this is not a perfect bill by any means, I am proud to have included this provision to create jobs, promote economic growth, and make the necessary investments in our infrastructure to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the nation’s largest ferry system.”

The compromise transportation reauthorization bill will include $67 million for ferry systems nationwide, and of that total, up to $20 million will go to WSF annually.

Murray said it was a major victory for Washington state, as it preserves a dedicated funding source for ferries from the Federal Highway Administration.

A major focus of the transportation reauthorization bill was the consolidation and elimination of programs, and more than two-thirds of the highway programs were consolidated and dozens were eliminated in the final bill.



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