$35.3 million ready to be spent

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SEATTLE – Some $31.4 million in federal stimulus money will be invested in water improvement projects in Alaska and Washington state Indian country.

Another $3.6 million will go to transportation improvement projects in Washington state, and another $351,849 will help two health clinics expand their services.

The funding is included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law Feb. 17.

Water improvement projects: Alaska Native governments will receive $27 million; $4.4 million will be made available to tribal governments elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

The money will be available through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water Tribal Set-Aside programs. The money can be used to issue loans for enhancing, upgrading and rebuilding public drinking water systems and public wastewater systems, as well as funding non-point source projects.

“States and tribes will use up to 20 percent of the funds for water and energy efficiency and other innovative projects,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, acting regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. “The funding will go a long way to help protect northwest water quality and families that depend on safe drinking water. This initiative makes an important down payment to fix our aging infrastructure and offers workers well paid ‘green’ jobs.”

IHS, which manages water-related infrastructure construction for tribal governments, expects to begin allocating the funds this month.

Transportation improvement projects: Six Indian country transportation improvement projects have been certified by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, clearing the way to receive funding.

The projects are among 138 certified in Washington state; $551 million is expected to be invested in transportation improvement projects. Infrastructure project certifications confirm to the federal government that construction projects – roads, water systems and others – have received the review required by law and represent an appropriate investment of taxpayer dollars.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will receive $111,000 to build a trail between the Jamestown Community Center and Blyn Road. The proposed trail is an old railroad right of way. The 3,600-foot trail will be 14 feet wide. The trail is being built to provide safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Lummi Indian Nation will receive $250,000 to construct about 9,000 feet of a shared bicycle-pedestrian trail between Kwina Road and Slater Road east of Haxton Way. The trail is being built to provide pedestrian safety along a high-speed road by constructing a combination walking and bicycle path separated from the road.

“This is a vital project to the Lummi Nation in order to reduce the number of pedestrian/vehicular accidents below recent unacceptable levels,” Lummi reported in a project overview.

Omak, a city of 4,721 which is partly on the Colville Reservation, will receive $177,000 to widen sidewalk, install sidewalk ramps and intersections compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and install crosswalks, curbs and a retaining wall from Fourth Avenue to Jasmine Street.

“The new sidewalk along Okoma Drive would provide pedestrian access to the many businesses and medical facilities located in the southern portion of the city, and would connect to Omak’s existing residential and Central Business District sidewalk system,” City Administrator Ralph Malone said. “It would greatly improve pedestrian safety and the movement of handicapped persons and children in this area of the city.”

Skokomish Tribal Nation will receive $821,000 to complete the intersection of State Route 101 and t3ba’das Parkway. The funds will widen Route 101 by 14 feet; add a two-way left turn lane, an east entry to Potlatch Park, two right turn tapers, intersection lighting, and a pedestrian-actuated signal to warn motorists of crossing foot traffic; install a fish culvert on Potlatch Creek and improve storm water drainage, as well as landscaping, road resurfacing, road signs and striping.

“This project will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians while addressing existing environmental impacts,” Deputy Tribal Manager Tom Strong said.

Toppenish, a city of 8,946 within the Yakama Reservation, will receive $320,000 to reconstruct and resurface crosswalk accesses, roadways and sidewalks on South Toppenish and Washington avenues.

“This project will extend the improvements made in downtown Toppenish and restore two severely deteriorated roadways,” Toppenish City Manager William C. Murphy said. “These improvements will help promote the Central Business District, provide safety, ADA compliance and facilitate movement through the core downtown area.

The Tulalip Tribes will receive $2 million to widen 116th Street N.E. between the southbound lanes of the Interstate 5 ramp terminals and Quil Ceda Boulevard, and replace a stream culvert to connect the two ends of the culvert and fully open a salmon-bearing fish passage stream.

Health services: Two health centers serving American Indians will receive $351,849 in federal stimulus money to expand services.

Colville Confederated Tribes’ health center will receive $142,375. The Seattle Indian Health Board will receive $209,474. The money is expected to result in the adding of new providers and expanding hours of operation.

Community health centers across Washington state will receive more than $10 million as part of the Recovery Act, according to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“Community health centers provide quality and affordable health care for all Washington residents,” she said. “This funding will allow health centers to protect jobs, keep overall health care costs down, and keep their doors open to the local community.”

– Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.

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