U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and other community stakeholders will be in Washougal on Friday touting the $40 million federal investment in the 32nd Street Underpass Project.
The project will build an underpass at 32nd Street to eliminate the intersection with the BNSF Railway line.
The intersection has a crash history, prevents emergency vehicles from getting through when a train is passing by and, because of the crossing’s proximity to Highway 14, downtown and the Port of Washougal, it’s not uncommon for vehicles to be backed up onto the highway during one of the 45 average crossings a day, according to City Manager David Scott.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program, which Cantwell, the chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, authored as part of the 2021 infrastructure law.
“This is about fixing a problem that really cut off a region from itself with the level of increase in (train) volume,” Cantwell said Friday. “How would you increase economic development and activity if people said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to deal with the train, blocking access all the time.’ ”
The grant, which was announced in May, is the second-largest award in the nation.
The project is estimated to cost $50 million, however, it has likely increased since the last estimate in October, Scott said in May. In addition to the federal money, Washington has allotted nearly $7 million, and local officials have pledged up to $4.82 million, according to the Camas-Washougal Post-Record. The project is expected to take three to 4½ years to complete.
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