Huge federal spending bill includes Clallam, Jefferson projects

    By Brian Gawley, Peninsula Daily News

    Article published Dec 20, 2007

    WASHINGTON - A huge federal spending bill required to keep the government operating past midnight Friday contains numerous projects to benefit both Clallam and Jefferson counties.

    The $555 billion spending bill passed Congress on Wednesday and headed for the desk of President Bush, who was expected to sign the measure.

    Among recipients are the Port Angeles International Gateway Transportation Center, the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, the Elwha River restoration as part of the dams removal project and a pedestrian bridge across the Elwha River that will be part of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

    Also earmarked is money for Jefferson Transit to buy three new buses, while Clallam Transit System would get partial funding for a new bus.

    The bill includes another $343,000 for the Port Angeles International Gateway Transportation Center project, a project that has received more than $4 million in federal money.

    The federal money would help close a $3.1 million funding gap identified in March 2007 for the $13.8 million project.

    A final funding outline for the project will be presented to the City Council sometime next year.

    Primo Construction of Carlsborg began construction in June along Lincoln Street between Railroad Avenue and Front Street. Work is scheduled to finish in the late summer 2008.

    The project will include a transit building with a public plaza and bus lane plus a two-tiered parking garage, clock tower and pavilion roof covering the plaza.Northwest Maritime Center
    The bill also includes $441,000 for the Northwest Maritime Center slated for the former Thomas Oil "brownfield" site in Port Townsend.

    It has previously been given $250,000.

    "It's a significant amount of money, said Maritime Center Executive Director Stan Cummings.

    He said that Sen. Patty Murray, D-Freeland, "called us last night to let us know.

    "We've announced we're going to bid on this project [Maritime Heritage and Resource Building] at the end of January," he said.

    The center now has raised $10.2 million of its $12.2 million fundraising goal for purchase and cleanup of the property and pier and construction of the first of two buildings at the Hudson Point end of Water Street.

    The second building is estimated to cost $5 million.

    The center will provide hands-on educational programs, a history of our region's maritime heritage and programs that will promote the maritime trades.

    The initiative is aimed at revitalizing Port Townsend's National Landmark Historic District and creating new economic, tourist, educational, and recreational opportunities.Elwha River dams
    The bill also includes $446,500 for the river restoration portion of the Elwha River dams removal and river restoration project.

    The National Park Service is removing the two Elwha River dams - the Elwha and Glines Canyon - to restore salmon habitat.

    But restoring the river habitat actually is the statutory requirement of the federal legislation authorizing the project.

    This funding will pay for restoration projects such as removal of unnecessary floodplain dikes, additions of large woody debris as constructed logjams, correction of fish passage barriers, and riparian forest improvements.

    Last estimated at $185 million, the massive project has attracted worldwide attention from biologists, environmentalists and others interested in not only removal of the two concrete structures but also how the river's ecosystem will be restored.Pedestrian bridge
    The funding bill also contains $563,500 for the pedestrian bridge over the Elwha River that will become part of the western extension of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

    The pedestrian crossing will be below the deck of a new highway bridge connecting the historic crossing of the 1915 Seattle and North Coast Railway to U.S. Highway 101.

    The two-lane, two-deck bridge across the Elwha River canyon will replace the 94-year-old span that was closed permanently in August.

    The project had hit a snag in June when a Pierce County contractor's low bid of nearly $16.4 million overshot the county's estimated cost by $5.5 million.

    Rather than scrap the replacement - and lose the $1.5 million it already had invested on the project - the county sought more money for the bridge.

    The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe successfully lobbied the Bureau of Indian Affairs to contribute $1.5 million for the work and has asked for more.

    The state Department of Transportation and the National Park Service added another $2.9 million.Transit buses
    The funding bill also contains money for both Jefferson Transit and Clallam Transit System.

    Jefferson Transit would receive $343,000 to buy three new vehicles for its Dial-A-Ride service and its route between Forks and Amanda Park, said Dave Turissini, Jefferson Transit general manager.

    Clallam Transit System received $192,080 of the $271,000 it had requested to buy a new bus.

    Clallam Transit General Manager Terry Weed said he couldn't comment until he received something official regarding the final funding amount.________
    Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-417-3532 or


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