WALLA WALLA - Port of Walla Walla Commissioner Mike Fredrickson has been appointed to serve on a statewide task force navigating investments and funding for the state's transportation system.
Fredrickson is one of 27 people appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to serve on the "Connecting Washington Task Force," which will develop a 10-year investing and funding plan for the state's transportation system and present it to the 2012 Legislature.
As one of five representatives from east of the Cascades on the board, Fredrickson said he plans to make funding for U.S. Highway 12 a major priority.
"The No. 1 priority is that the state of Washington gets a good package," Fredrickson said of his position with the group. "No. 2 is that Highway 12 gets funding."
The widening and realignment of the highway between Walla Walla and Pasco continues to be a source of local efforts as officials seek funding to complete the final phases. Fredrickson said design and environmental work has been completed for phases 7 and 8, which would improve the highway from Nine Mile Hill to Wallula. He said about $2.5 million is banked for phase 7A, which would widen the highway from Nine Mile Hill to the Woodward Canyon vicinity. That stretch of project is estimated to have a $74 million price tag. Fredrickson said about $2 million more is needed to fund land acquisition for all of phase 7.
Though Walla Walla has received federal funding for various construction phases, Fredrickson said the majority of the money has come from the state level, making the need for advocacy on the new task force that much more important.
The group's first meeting will be Tuesday. Fredrickson said he expects it to be an introduction to the broad issues surrounding transportation funding. The next meeting will take place six weeks later.
Others expected to be at the table include representatives from tribes, organized labor, trade associations and businesses, plus transit, consumer and environmental advocates. It will also include the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, the secretary of transportation and chair of the state transportation commission.
Gregoire will chair the group and help lead its meetings, which will take place periodically through fall.
"The demands on transit, roads and ferries will grow as our population grows and as businesses climb out of this recessions," Gregoire said in a prepared statement. "Major transportation projects must be built, our ferry system must be preserved for future generations and the current transportation system must be maintained. Connecting Washington will give the Legislature options to improve and maintain our transportation system and help keep our communities and businesses moving."
In her announcement, Gregoire said the 2003 and 2005 revenue packages have funded hundreds of transportation projects across Washington. The majority of those will be under contract or completed by the end of the 2011-'13 biennium. After the 2013-'15 biennium more than 90 percent of the two transportation packages' proceeds will cover debt service.
She said additional resources will be needed to finish major projects, including replacing the State Route 520 bridge and Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing, and building the North Spokane corridor.
More resources will also be needed to fill the ferry system's 10-year, $1 billion budget hole and to cover the replacement of the aging fleet.
CONNECTING WASHINGTON TASK FORCE
The following people have been appointed to serve on the Connecting Washington Task Force:
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, chair, Senate Transportation Committee
Sen. Curtis King, ranking minority member, Senate Transportation Committee
Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair, House Transportation Committee
Rep. Mike Armstrong, ranking minority member, House Transportation Committee
Leo Bowman, Benton County commissioner
Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County commissioner
Fred Jarrett, Deputy King County Executive
Paul Roberts, Everett City Council member
Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council member
Tom Trulove, mayor of Cheney
Bill Bryant, Port of Seattle commissioner
Mike Frederickson, Port of Walla Walla commissioner
Paula Hammond, secretary, Department of Transportation
Richard Ford, chair, Transportation Commission
Bob Adams, vice president, Guy F. Atkinson Construction
Terry Brewer, executive director, Grant County Economic Development Council
Rodney Brown, board chair, Washington Environmental Council
David Johnson, executive secretary, Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council
Jeff Johnson, president, Washington State Labor Council
E. Susan Meyer, CEO, Spokane Transit/incoming president of the Washington Transit Association
Kirk Nelson, president and CEO, AAA Washington
Laura Peterson, vice president for State and Local Government Relations, Northwest Region, The Boeing Company
Nick Rocchi, managing director Pacific Northwest District, Federal Express
Tim Schauer, chair-elect, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
DeLee Shoemaker, State Government Affairs director, Microsoft Corporation
Stan Vander Pole, president and CEO, Peninsula Truck Lines
Barbara Wright, board member, Transportation Choices Coalition