(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, and Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire announced that the Mercer Corridor Project in Seattle will receive $30 million under the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant program which Senator Murray created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Murray set up the $1.5 billion TIGER program to fund transportation projects that not only quickly create jobs and boost local economies but that also make a significant investment in improving transportation infrastructure that is vital to a region’s sustained job growth and economic competitiveness. The grants were awarded competitively by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“This funding is a critical piece of the puzzle for a project that is central to the economy of our state and the Puget Sound region,” said Senator Murray. “Rebuilding the Mercer Corridor is going to create direct construction jobs, improve port and highway access, and reduce commute times in an area that contains some of our most vital employers. I created the TIGER grant program to fund projects just like this one. Projects that that not only create jobs in the construction phase, but that also address regional economic needs. This project lies in the heart of one of the most important economic engines in our state.”
“After decades of studies and reports, we are finally solving the Mercer Mess,” said Governor Gregoire. “This project will improve a critical freight corridor and help people get to their jobs in a neighborhood that is expected to add thousands of new jobs over the next few years. With the Mercer corridor project underway, we are taking a major step forward in our efforts to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.”
Senator Murray was informed Tuesday that the Mercer Corridor project would receive funding in a personal phone call from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Murray has spoken to Secretary LaHood several times about the projects importance to multiple sectors of Washington state’s economy and about the potential for the project to get underway quickly.
"This is great news for Washington's economy," said Tay Yoshitani Port of Seattle CEO. "It reduces congestion locally, helps our farmers and companies reach key export markets, and will aid our tourism industry. Moving people and goods efficiently produces the real gold medal - jobs."
The Mercer Corridor is a critical transportation corridor that carries more than 80,000 people a day. It has been a major traffic bottleneck in the Seattle area, limiting access to the growing South Lake Union area, ports and highways, the Seattle Waterfront, and the Seattle Center. It is also directly connected to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The project supports growth in many key sectors of Washington state’s economy including information technology, biotechnology, tourism, and international trade. Major employers located directly in the region include the University of Washington Medical Center, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Amazon.com, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The TIGER Grant funding will help build multi-modal improvements along Mercer and Valley streets including widening Mercer to create a two-way boulevard, reconstructing Valley Street as a local access street, providing new and wider sidewalks, improving connections to transit and adding bicycle lanes. The project replaces major utility infrastructure and integrates many environmentally friendly and sustainable design features. It supports the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project (SR 99) and rebuilds the street grid in South Lake Union
The Mercer Corridor was one of two projects funded in Washington state, the other was the North Spokane Corridor project in Spokane.