MLT lobbying effort leads to proposed legislation by Rep. Larsen

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2nd District U.S. Representative Rick Larsen
2nd District U.S. Representative Rick Larsen

After numerous mentions by Mountlake Terrace officials that receiving any transportation infrastructure funding from the federal government would be nearly impossible, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen introduced legislation on Thursday that would set aside 20 percent of available building funds specifically for smaller cities.

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded more than $3 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for various road, rail, transit and port projects throughout the country. The department has been authorized to award more than $473.8 million in fiscal year 2013; Larsen’s legislation, entitled Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery for Cities Underfunded Because of Size (TIGER CUBS) Act of 2013, would require the DOT to set aside a portion of those funds for cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 people.

“TIGER grants are a great way to create jobs by investing in our roads, bridges and highways. But smaller cities don’t have the resources to compete for these grants with the New Yorks and San Franciscos of the country,” Larsen said. “The TIGER CUBS Act will make sure that cities like Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Sedro-Woolley have a fair shot at these critical transportation dollars.”

Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith and other city officials had been pushing for Larsen to seek changes in the TIGER grant program and see the proposed legislation as the results of their efforts. “That’s because of us,” Smith said. “He promised that to us and he followed through.”

The City of Mountlake Terrace has applied for TIGER grants previously to pay for proposed improvements to its Town Center District, but has not been successful in obtaining any of the DOT funds. Smith is optimistic that if the TIGER CUBS legislation passes Congress and is signed into law the city could get some federal money for Town Center improvements within five years.

Smith and other Mountlake Terrace city officials pledged to support Larsen’s proposed legislation. “We strongly support the TIGER CUBS bill and applaud Representative Larsen for his innovative approach to meeting the infrastructure and economic development needs of smaller cities,” Smith said. “I urge Congress to pass the Larsen legislation to provide additional federal funding opportunities for small and medium-sized cities.”

“We will continue to work with Congressman Larsen, who has been a staunch advocate for the city’s infrastructure and economic development objectives, to include working with our neighboring cities, Puget Sound Regional Council, Economic Alliance Snohomish County and other regional partners on this proposed legislation,” stated Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield.

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