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Clean fuels and clean water: what's in the infrastructure bill for Washington

caption: A bus is shown in a rearview mirror on Olive Way near the intersection of 9th Ave., on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, in Seattle.
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A bus is shown in a rearview mirror on Olive Way near the intersection of 9th Ave., on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The recently-approved infrastructure bill will help Washington state electrify buses and other vehicles, fix hundreds of roads and bridges, and give salmon a better chance at survival.

  • Congress approved the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Friday night with bipartisan support, (228-206 vote). The act is worth roughly $1 trillion.
  • The Build Back Better bill is a separate package, backed by Democratic lawmakers, to fund social spending and climate action. It's even bigger — $1.75 trillion — and it's still awaiting a vote.
  • All seven of Washington's Democratic reps approve of the infrastructure bill, while the state's three GOP reps voted nay.

What are the big wins for Washington state?

Washington will get a share of all of the big items in the bill, including big money for transit, clean water, climate resilience, and roadways.

This act makes not only the largest ever federal investment in public transit (according to Rep. Derek Kilmer), but also the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water (according to Rep. Pramila Jayapal). The bill is 1,039 pages and lawmakers are still parsing out what's in it for their states, but here is a list of some of the items being touted:

  • King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Sea-Tac Airport: combined, these agencies will receive more than $1 billion.
  • Water infrastructure: nearly $900 million for clean drinking water and waste water systems, including replacing pipes and ripping out old lead ones.
  • Bridge repair/replacement: about $600 million for Washington state bridges. Federal data indicated Washington has 416 bridges in poor condition.
  • Highways: $4.7 billion for Washington state highway repair and maintenance.

The bill includes smaller, but still significant, investments in climate change resilience and environment. Those include:

  • Puget Sound: $89 million for EPA restoration on Puget Sound, and an additional $4 million for other EPA geographic projects in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Wildfire prevention and protection: $39 million over five years.
  • Weatherization: Representative Derek Kilmer's office says Washington will "benefit from the bill’s historic $3.5 billion national investment in weatherization."
  • Cyber security: $18 million to protect against cyberattacks in Washington state.

In addition, there's money for salmon habitat, fish passages, childcare facilities, and more.

Washington's three Republican representatives voted against the package. GOP Representative Dan Newhouse says it falls short of supporting central Washington and did not include enough Republican input.

President Biden plans to sign the act into law in the coming days.

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