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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

$10M in federal dollars to benefit Southwest Washington projects

Sen. Patty Murray meets virtually with recipients of funding

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 3, 2022, 6:01am

Southwest Washington public institutions and nonprofits are set to receive $10 million in federal funding for rural health care, youth workforce programs and infrastructure.

Sen. Patty Murray, who is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, met with recipients during a virtual roundtable Thursday to discuss the congressionally directed funding she secured in the 2022 government spending package.

“These funds are going to make a big difference for community projects in Southwest Washington,” Murray said.

Vancouver’s project on Southeast First Street, which is currently under construction, will receive $2.5 million in funding. Federal dollars would connect growing areas of Vancouver by modernizing the roadway, providing additional travel and turn lanes for vehicles, and building sidewalks and a cycling track. The project will also create a transportation facility that will advance the city’s carbon-neutrality goals.

Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said the corridor has an 8 percent higher crash rate than statewide averages. There are nearly 100 recorded crashes along the road, with half of them resulting in major injuries, she added.

“The completion of this project would reduce that crash rate,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

The project status can be found on the city’s public works website.

Workforce Southwest Washington, an employee training and recruitment organization, received $1.5 million for its SummerWorks youth program. Miriam Halliday, the organization’s CEO, said the program helps youth who are in poverty and struggling to complete school get connected with local businesses for summer jobs. The program leads to higher graduation rates and increases job-readiness for the future, she said.

“For many, a summer job can be a critical and positive turning point to help (young adults) gain confidence, skills and career direction,” Halliday said.

The Port of Longview is set to invest its allotted $2.5 million in its Industrial Rail Corridor Expansion project. The Cascade AIDS Project will use $390,000 to expand health and behavioral care to LGBTQ individuals in Clark County, and Klickitat Valley Health will upgrade its outdated utility systems.

These projects were among various statewide efforts to receive direct funding.

In April 2021, the office began asking groups across Washington to submit appropriations requests. Overall, $116 million was distributed to local initiatives in Washington benefitting underserved communities, with a specific focus on child care, affordable housing, health care and infrastructure, according to a spokesperson from Murray’s office.

Congressionally directed spending arrived alongside the passage of the 2022 appropriations bill after a decade prohibition. It was capped at 1 percent of total discretionary spending for the fiscal year, generating about $15 billion, the spokesperson said.

Columbian staff writer