Lowry signs legislation to repair flood-damaged rail lines

OLYMPIA -- Repair work on several of the state's most important flood-damaged rail lines could begin soon under legislation signed into law today by Gov. Mike Lowry.

Senate Bill 6776 which authorizes state funding to repair rail lines that were washed out or seriously damaged during the February flooding will allow the state Department of Transportation to use current funds from their rail accounts to immediately begin to repair or restore the hardest hit rail lines.

Funding for rail lines disaster aid also is included in the supplemental transportation budget, which Lowry has said he will take action on in the next couple of weeks. However, the legislation signed today will allow repairs to begin more quickly before the supplemental budget measure becomes law.

The governor said he asked that SB 6776 be put on a fast track for approval when he learned that flood damage to the state's rail lines was severe enough to significantly affect a number of communities in Eastern Washington.

"Our rail system is critical to the lives and livelihoods of people in the state's agricultural communities," Lowry said. "This legislation will help people who are still recovering from the devastating floods get their lives and their businesses back on track."

According to Lowry, flood damage to rail lines has isolated a number of grain elevators and warehouses that serve Southwest Washington's agricultural communities. In the town of Prescott, a series of rail cars are stranded at a grain loading facility. In Dayton, the Seneca/Green Giant plant is without rail service, and in Pullman, an important fertilizer warehouse remains isolated.

The governor said he is pleased the rail line repair process will soon be underway. SB 6776 was approved on the final day of the legislative session (March 7) and arrived in the governor's office on Monday. Lowry said he has been assured by state DOT officials that they will do everything they can to expedite the repair process.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.