In response to last week’s election of a new President, King County Executive Dow Constantine met with his Cabinet this morning to examine the potential consequences for King County, then met with the press to advocate for protecting what’s important for our region, including regional health insurance, human services, environmental protection, and transportation.. (See the full Facebook video here).
On behalf of the Department of Transportation, Metro General Manager Rob Gannon spelled out how our financial plans depend upon significant federal support to keep people moving and keep communities connected. King County anticipates receiving $550 million in federal transportation grants over the next six years — with about 90 percent of those grants in support of Metro Transit.
Metro is counting on receiving $251 million over the next three years from the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. All of this funding is subject to annual appropriation by Congress. These funds will help keep our bus fleet safe and reliable, improve access to park and rides lots and bicycle connections, and reduce travel times. These funds are critical to Executive Constantine’s vision of doubling bus ridership under METRO CONNECTS – our long-range plan to accommodate one-million more people and 850,000 more jobs that are coming to our region.
Federal grants also fund a range of other DOT activities: airport runways and taxiways, water taxis and passenger ferry facilities, and preserving and maintaining our critical roads and bridges. If federal funds become available for infrastructure under a new Administration, we can put them to work right away.
Our Aviation Division is encouraged at the president-elect’s comments speaking of the need to upgrade our nation’s airports.
Many of our County bridges and roads were not designed for the kind of traffic they must bear daily. Rebuilding those roads to modern standards will require a significant investment. As seen in the graphic below, a federal funding push in the 1950s led to a spike of construction nationwide, including 47 bridges in King County during that decade. But this infrastructure built by our parents and grandparents has a roughly 50-year life span. The need to renovate or replace these bridges is coming due all at once – of our total of 181 bridges, 16 are now structurally deficient, and 41 more are functionally obsolete.
“For the people of King County, any reduction in federal assistance for transportation will harm our regional mobility,” said Gannon. “We look forward to continued work with our federal partners to make sure everyone has the ability to get to work, to get back home, to get everywhere they need to go, and to do it safely.”
Added Executive Constantine, “The next Congress and the White House need to know what’s at stake for our region. Whatever happens in Washington, DC, our region will continue to move forward, and outward to the rest of the world, building a welcoming community, a strong economy, and a healthy environment.”