The funding from this bill will address several North Sound projects. These include the planned Orange Community Transit bus rapid transit line from Edmonds College in Lynnwood to McCollum Park just east of I-5 on 128th St SW, and for the Sound Transit extension projects to not only Lynnwood but also to Everett.

Last week, President Biden signed the 1.2 trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. The bill addressed needs across the country including roads, bridges, rail, transit, water systems, broadband, and more. Here is what this legislation means for the North Sound.

The state of Washington got nearly $8.6 billion in earmarked funding and access to billions more through the Capital Investment Program (CIP) – grants for a variety of projects. Of that dedicated funding, about $4.7 billion is devoted to highways and $605 million for bridge replacement and enhancements.

Roads and Bridges

For the North Sound, the bill can provide support funding through the Legislature for projects including the Hewitt Ave Trestle replacement, and the northbound I-5 additional lane between the Snohomish River and SR 528 in Marysville. Another key project is Snohomish County’s number one bridge replacement, the Granite Falls Bridge across the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River on the Mountain Loop Highway.

Public Transit / Passenger and Freight Rail

The funding from this bill will address several North Sound projects. These include the planned Orange Community Transit bus rapid transit line from Edmonds College in Lynnwood to McCollum Park just east of I-5 on 128th St SW, and for the Sound Transit extension projects to not only Lynnwood but also to Everett.

The bill is the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created 50 years ago. Funding will help replace aging Amtrak passenger cars on the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight routes and provide Amtrak preference rights to ensure freight railroads permit Amtrak trains to run on time. At-grade crossings and rail bridges like the old bridge over the Snohomish River will also be addressed.

Ports and Airports

Snohomish County’s Paine Field is due to receive $16 million to assist with their 20-year improvement plan. The Port of Everett is eligible for CIP grants to assist with other waterfront projects.

Water and Wastewater

Tribal and rural water systems throughout the North Sound will receive funding for antiquated stormwater and wastewater systems. Funding will continue the effort to replace, remove or enhance roadway culverts to enhance recovery of salmon passage and habitats. The bill also reauthorized the Sport Fish and Recreational Boating Safety Trust Fund, supporting the fishery restoration and conservation program, boating access and infrastructure, and fish stocking programs.

Broadband Internet

Remote schooling exposed the gaps in digital Internet equity during the pandemic across the nation including the North Sound. At least 240,000 people in Washington currently lack good broadband access and this bill provides $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state.

Modernizing the Power Grid

As more and more power is needed for homes, businesses, schools, and more, and the population becomes ever more reliant on electric power, the aging power grid needs urgent upgrades. The Texas cold snap last February is but one good example of the need, and the recent heat dome strained the Pacific Northwest power grid.

The bill addresses modernization includes building new resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. In addition, the bill funds energy cybersecurity efforts to enhance power grid security for additional reliability.

Electric Vehicles

Funding from the bill invests $5 billion nationwide for electric school buses and $2.5 billion for electric ferries including the Washington State Ferries as they replace aging diesel-run vessels.

The bill also invests $7.5 billion to install the first-ever national network of Electric Vehicle chargers across the nation. These chargers will be along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities, providing more convenient charging where people live, work, shop, and play.

With more electric vehicles being used, these efforts will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help in the battle to reduce greenhouse gases.

Wildfires, Flooding, and More

With the rise in the number of wildfires and toxic smoke, as well as the North Sound’s recent flooding, this bill also authorizes funding to enhance fire weather forecast infrastructure, high-performance computing capacity for forecasts and droughts, and flood mapping, forecasting, and water modeling.  Funding is also included to mitigate against future wildfires, and wildfire burn scar flash flooding, and landslides.

The bill also provides funding for other infrastructure and community support projects with the strong support of local Congressional members. Senator Maria Cantwell said, “This level of investment is long overdue, especially for a high-growth area like Puget Sound. This legislation is going to create jobs and improve our state.”

Senator Patty Murray noted, “The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will fix our aging infrastructure. This is an important investment in our physical infrastructure.”

Congressman Rick Larsen voiced, “This is the bold, long-term investment in infrastructure the nation needs to create more jobs, drive economic recovery and growth, and build a cleaner and greener transportation network.”

As Debra Glassman of the University of Washington Foster School of Business added, “You can’t design a road or bridge and build it overnight. We’ll be seeing the effects roll out over a period of years. At the end of that time, we’ll look back and be able to see that this bill was big and transformational.”

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.