May 2, 2003
Letter to the Editor
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
P.O. Box 1358
Walla Walla, WA 99362
This letter is in response to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin article dated April 29, 2003 entitled “Package Includes U.S. 12 Funds”. Several issues in this article need to be clarified.
The transportation revenue package recently approved by the state legislature provides $32.5 million over a seven year period to four-lane U.S. Highway 12. This funding along with $4.4 million recently secured at the federal level will provide the needed financing to four-lane U.S. Highway 12 from the Snake River Bridge in Burbank to the Wallula Junction. This is a critical transportation improvement project for the safety and economic vitality of our region. Senator Mike Hewitt and Representatives Bill Grant and Dave Mastin deserve credit for making sure U.S. Highway 12 was included in the state transportation package. Senator Patty Murray and Congressman George Nethercutt have been leading the way at the federal level and Senator Maria Cantwell has also been supportive.
The news article also referred to $3 million being allocated to “plan the expansion”. If you are like me you are tired of planning and want pavement laid sooner rather than later. However, with the financing secured to build four lanes from Burbank to Wallula Junction, we need to start planning where the four-lane corridor will be located from the Wallula Junction to the City of Walla Walla. The $3 million in planning money is earmarked for this exact purpose. It represents a significant planning and surveying effort.
The article also referred to the U.S. Highway 12 Coalition seeking $29 million in “State Transportation Efficiency Act” dollars. This is not correct. The coalition is seeking $29 million from the federal government as part of the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The source of funding is federal gas taxes that we pay at the pump. The coalition is trying to get a portion of these federal gas tax dollars allocated to allow four-lane construction to continue past Wallula Junction.
To learn more about the U.S. Highway 12 Coalition efforts visit our web site at www.ushighway12.com.
James M. Kuntz, Executive Director
Port of Walla Walla