Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial:
U.S. Highway 12 Coalition's hard work pays off
There is reason to be optimistic U.S. Highway 12 will be four lanes from Walla Walla to the Snake River bridge in the not-too-distant future.
By the Editorial Board of the Union-Bulletin
The U.S. Highway 12 Coalition's success has come from hard work, not luck. And its members have the bags under their eyes to prove it.
Coalition members, led by Port of Walla Walla officials, have tirelessly lobbied Congress and the state Legislature for money to expand Highway 12 to four lanes between Burbank and Walla Walla. Coalition members have done their homework, planned well and were prepared to seize the opportunity when the time came. It came when the Legislature cobbled together a seven-year plan for state road improvements.
Funding was secured to expand the highway to four lanes from the Wallula Junction to Burbank. Southeastern Washington will get more than its fair share of money from the nickel-a-gallon gas tax recently approved by the Legislature. (Shhh, don't spread it around, the folks west of the Cascades might make a grab for our asphalt.)
The gas-tax hike will provide $32.5 million over seven years. In addition, $4.4 million has been secured from the federal government.
Money was also obtained to plan for expansion of the highway all the way to Walla Walla.
And, of course, lobbying continues for federal and state money for the 30 or so miles of pavement to Walla Walla. The Coalition has a lot more work ahead of it.
But the group has already made progress. It has convinced U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt that the highway improvements are necessary.
There is reason to be optimistic Highway 12 will be four lanes from Walla Walla to the Snake River bridge in the not-too-distant future.
Coalition members deserve our praise for their vision for the future and getting the project this far.