House Speaker Pelosi visits Chambers Creek project funded by Infrastructure and Jobs Act

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, joined U.S. House Rep. Marilyn Strickland at Chambers Creek watershed in Pierce County on Wednesday to discuss the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. “This remarkable backdrop reminds us of America’s collective obligation to care for nature’s life-giving wonders,” Pelosi said. “The health and livelihood of working families depend on good stewardship.” Other local leaders also spoke, including Bill Sterud, Chairman of the Puyallup Tribe; Willie Frank III, Chairman of the Nisqually Tribal Council; Don Anderson, Lakewood City Council member; and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer. 

Under the bipartisan act that passed Congress in November, Washington state is set to receive federal funding for transit, high speed rail, broadband expansion, wastewater treatment facilities and dams such as the one at Chambers Creek. Pelosi called the funding for Washington state “appropriately generous” and said that $5.3 billion will be awarded to fund roads and bridges, as well as $1.9 billion to fund public transit. Additionally, $71 million will be allocated for electric vehicle charging stations.

Overall, the bill will fund $13 billion for Tribal communities nationwide, she said. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi laughs with Nisqually Tribal Chair Willie Frank Jr. as they gather for an Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act press conference in front of the Chambers Creek Dam in University Place on Wednesday, May 4.

The shorelines of Chambers Bay will be restored, as well as local salmon fisheries, leading to more jobs as well as recreational opportunities in the area, Anderson said. The effort to restore the Chambers Creek bridge and to remove the 100-year-old dam has taken multiple jurisdictions and has had much bipartisan support for years. Kilmer called the new infrastructure act a “big deal.” 

“It’s about recognizing that we can’t compete in a 21st-century economy with 19th and 20th century infrastructure,” he said. “Sadly, in our region, deteriorating infrastructure and failing culverts have long had a negative impact on water quality and have threatened the salmon that are so important to our identity and economy, and to our tribal treaty responsibilities.” This is the first time a federal program has been dedicated to culvert restoration and removal, Kilmer said. A billion dollars from the package will go towards those projects, to improve fish passage and salmon restoration. Additionally, the law will provide record funding for other projects in Puget Sound. “The Chambers Creek Bridge and dam removal are examples of how these infrastructure dollars have a wide-ranging impact,” Strickland said. “This is about the environment, this is about tribal treaty rights, this is about good family-wage union jobs. This is about making sure that we keep the beauty that makes this place so incredibly special.” She also noted there is a national security concern around the area because of access to nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi puts up her fists as she describes the tenacity of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy during questions at the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act press conference in front of the Chambers Creek Dam in University Place on Wednesday, May 4. Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com The total cost of the package is estimated at $550 billion over five years, with each state receiving a portion of those funds for various projects, depending on the state’s needs. The largest chunk of spending will go towards roads, bridges and other major projects at a $110 billion price tag. Passenger and freight rails will receive $66 billion, and $39 billion would go towards other public transit. Pelosi said that spending for projects will be determined by need, and by local areas submitting applications for grants. Instead of telling people where to spend the money, appeals for grants will be decided on by community members where there is a “commonality of interest,” she said. Lawmakers who introduced the act said the proposal will not increase taxes on “everyday Americans” and claim that in conjunction with the Build Back Better Act it will increase jobs by 1.5 million every year for the next decade.

By:  Shauna Sowersby
Source: Tacoma News Tribune