SR 167 and freight talk of the town (Washington, DC, that is)

Supporters of SR 167 have long understood the importance of this critical trade corridor for Washington state. The highway was also a topic of conversation in our nation’s capital this week.

Congressman Alan Lowenthal of California, held a press conference in which he called on Congress to adopt a dedicated freight infrastructure fund. SR 167 was cited as one of the projects of national and regional significance that the federal government ought to invest in.

At the same time, the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) unveiled its “Freight Can’t Wait” program illustrating the many freight infrastructure needs across the United States. CAGTC praised the project, noting that “completing the project would provide a last-mile connections for manufactured and grown goods from around the U.S. being exported through the Port of Tacoma.” Coalition Director Leslie Blakey went on to note, “Freight movement occupies a special place in our transportation system as the element that supports and enables national and global commerce.”

This interconnectedness between freight investments and economic prosperity was also called out this week by the American Association of Port Authorities. “America’s freight network is vast and evolving,” they write in their newly released “State of Freight: Port Surface Transportation Infrastructure Survey.” “It’s a living grid and economic lifeline for the country…at its heart are America’s seaports, which handle approximately $6 billion worth of goods to and from overseas markets every day.”

Unfortunately, the investment needs to keep this economic lifeline functioning is great. AAPA estimates that U.S. ports located in the North Pacific require at least $6.90 billion in infrastructure investments to handle projected 2025 freight volumes.

 The Washington State Legislature has an opportunity this year to make a significant down payment on these needs by passing a statewide transportation package that includes SR 167. The time for action is now. As CAGTC declared, “We can’t wait for freight!”