Washington State lawmakers announced on Monday that a $73.6 million grant for the Puget Sound Gateway Program has been approved, extending SR 509 in King County and SR 167 in Pierce County.

Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) INFRA grant program, and will help enhance freight movement and economic competitiveness, and decrease congestion.

The Puget Sound Gateway Program combines two smaller freight-focused transportation projects: extending SR 509 in King County and extending SR 167 in Pierce County.

The extension of SR 509 will allow for a north-south alternative through Seattle and south King County, while forming a new southern access point for passengers and air cargo accessing Sea-Tac Airport. This addition will also provide an alternative route to I-5 from West Seattle, which is needed with the current closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

The SR 167 project will extend the highway from Puyallup into the Port of Tacoma, streamlining the transport of goods between the Port and key freight distribution centers in the Kent and Puyallup valleys. These enhancements will promote Washington state’s trade economy by connecting the state’s largest ports to important distribution centers in King and Pierce counties, as well as creating easier access for producers throughout Eastern Washington. The project will also help promote freight mobility and ease traffic congestion throughout the Puget Sound region. The first stage of construction kicked off on October 1, 2019.

The $73.6 million award was made through a grant program Cantwell created for freight mobility projects, which she authored in 2015 as part of the long-term transportation bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The grant program, now referred to as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program, is the first-ever multimodal freight grant program focused on freight mobility. INFRA grants provide funding for projects of national or regional significance including railway, seaport, and highway projects, such as highway-rail separations, to increase safety and reduce congestion.

Lawmakers involved include Rep. Adam Smith (D, WA-09), U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate transportation committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Representatives Denny Heck (D, WA-10), Derek Kilmer (D, WA-06), Pramila Jayapal (D, WA-07), and Kim Schrier, M.D., (D, WA-08).

“Investments in our infrastructure support continued economic development and provide job opportunities throughout the Puget Sound region,” said Rep. Smith. “This $73 million grant for the Puget Sound Gateway Project will fund desperately needed improvements to major highways that will improve regional mobility, spur economic growth, and enhance sustainability and safety. I look forward to the Washington State Department of Transportation’s continued progress on this project that will benefit millions of people in the state of Washington.”

“This investment couldn’t come at a better time,” Sen. Cantwell added. “Freight movement and congestion have plagued Puget Sound for years and with the West Seattle bridge down, alternative routes for freight are an even bigger priority. The $73 million dollar Gateway Program investment will establish an actual freight corridor along SR 167 and SR 509 to help agricultural products and manufactured goods get to port without going on I-5.”

Here’s more info from WSDOT’s website: