Kilmer helps fund major projects in Kitsap

First in a series

Traffic problems in Gorst and increasing affordable housing in Bremerton were two targets U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (6th District) pinpointed this year to receive federal funds out of Washington D.C.

Kilmer’s membership on the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee helped put the Northwest lawmaker in a good position to lobby for nearly $5 million for the two projects. The Appropriations Committee makes the decisions on where the money goes.

“Part of my role on the committee is to strategically engage on priorities for our region,” Kilmer said in his Washington, D.C. office. “My role on the committee is both to think globally and nationally about priorities but also to think parochially about what best serves the folks that I represent.”

Kilmer steered $4,116,279 to tackle the traffic issues along the troublesome Gorst Corridor, located five miles outside of Port Orchard. He pushed the Department of Transportation funds to support the Highway 1 Gorst Area Resiliency Project.

“Any person who has been late to work, a doctor’s appointment, or catch a ferry because they were stopped in traffic in Gorst understands the importance of addressing that bottleneck,” Kilmer said. “This project is also important because (Gorst) is the only route of access into the shipyard, which is the only shipyard on the West Coast that can maintain a carrier. If God forbid something happened, like an earthquake or tsunami, you are cutting off access to the facility.”

Bremerton mayor Greg Wheeler said it’s imperative the over 22,000 local workers in the defense industry have uninterrupted access to the area’s military installations. “By making the corridor more resilient we ensure [the military] can continue to do what they do, which is repair ships and get them back out to sea so they can perform their missions,” the mayor said.

Kilmer also helped get $500,000 for the Mills Crossing Housing Project in Bremerton, an undertaking aimed at addressing the area’s housing shortage. “We have a huge challenge related to housing in Kitsap County. Throughout our region we don’t have enough housing units that people can afford,” he said.

The Kitsap Community Resources project involves 36 new townhomes for those in need. Half of the units are permanent supportive housing while the remaining fall under affordable housing, KCR executive director Tony Ives said.

Each year dozens of local government and nonprofits reach out to Kilmer’s office seeking federal funding. To vet the applications Kilmer utilizes an independent community advisory panel to review the applications and come up with the most deserving projects. Leaders from each of the five counties Kilmer represents make up the panel.