A newly finalized $10 million federal grant should help the Port of Vancouver, Wash., get its long-planned West Vancouver Freight Access project done, which the Department of Transportation says will create access and eliminate "a freight chokepoint" there.
The plan is designed to improve cargo train moves between the docks and a BNSF Railway yard in the area.
The funds came out of the Department of Transportation's 2010 budget allocation for discretionary infrastructure project grants. The DOT calls that its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, and since 2010 followed an initial grant pool created in 2009 this one is called TIGER II funding.
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Containerized Ocean Trade - U.S. Pacific Northwest Ports
The DOT said the Vancouver project "will improve freight rail entry and exit from the port and eliminate the current switchback operation at the at-grade (road) crossing through the BNSF Railway Vancouver Yard, reducing the possibility of train collisions and alleviating congestion."
Port planners say the project expands trackage over 27 miles at a total cost of $150 million. It will take until 2017 to complete and create 4,000 construction jobs in the process. Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said the project will also "stimulate the economy and increase the port's competitiveness," in keeping with the administration's twin goals of boosting job growth and doubling exports through 2015.
The DOT first announced its grant on Oct. 20, but only this month did it and the port finalize an implementing agreement that details how the money will be spent. Now that the DOT has formally obligated those funds, the work can get under way.
This week, the DOT also learned that the latest budget deal leaves $527 million in a 2011 TIGER III account for additional infrastructure project awards.