We’ve all experienced it.
Maybe it caused you to be late to work. Or perhaps it made you late to a medical appointment or to picking up your kids from school. If you live in our area, you’ve undoubtedly been stuck in the bottleneck at Gorst.
While those delays may be the most obvious examples of the problem with the Gorst Corridor, there are others as well. According to a 2018 study by the Washington State Department of Transportation, there are concerns with multiple bridges and overpasses on the corridor that need repair.
Indeed, the Navy has expressed concerns that, in the event of a disaster, the lack of resiliency on the corridor could impede access to the only shipyard on the West Coast capable of maintaining a carrier. In addition, there are multiple fish passage barriers on the corridor, hindering salmon recovery efforts in the region.
The problems have gone unaddressed for too long. It’s time to find a fix.
That’s why I’ve been working with local partners to launch a community coalition that can secure federal and state resources to fix the Gorst Corridor. The Gorst Coalition is made up of Democrats and Republicans, city and county leaders, state legislators, tribal leaders, port commissioners, small business owners, economic development and Naval leaders, and everyone in between. We know that we’ve got to work together to make real progress.
As the U.S. representative for this region, I’ve been working to secure federal investments to fix the problem — and to ensure the cost of a solution doesn’t fall on the backs of local taxpayers. So far, that’s included securing increases for the Office of Economic Adjustment’s Defense Communities Infrastructure Program. This program helps communities near defense installations — like those in our region — plan for and implement future infrastructure projects to improve the quality of life for civilians and members of the armed services and their families.
What’s more, I was able to secure funding in the House to support the planning and design work needed to move the Gorst project forward. But perhaps the most significant opportunity will come with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This bipartisan, comprehensive infrastructure bill will make transformational investments in highways, roads, bridges, transit, rail, and water infrastructure across the nation. A project like the Gorst corridor – which can create jobs, improve safety, reduce congestion, and have positive environmental impact – is exactly the kind of transformation investment envisioned.
I am working to get this bipartisan bill passed. We know that investing in infrastructure can help put people to work in the near term and lay the foundation for economic growth over the long haul. Furthermore, every member of the Gorst Coalition is working to move this effort forward. That’s because every member of the coalition is aligned in believing that fixing Gorst matters.
It matters for jobs in our community – for the jobs that can be developed near the Bremerton Airport and the jobs we can keep and grow at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It matters to our tribal partners including the Suquamish Tribe who are working so hard to restore critical habitat in this inlet and recover our salmon populations. And it matters for the future of infrastructure in our region long-term as we grapple with congestion and safety concerns.
Folks have had to wait long enough. That’s why we’re committed to getting the job done and fixing the Gorst Corridor once and for all.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Gig Harbor, represents the 6th Congressional District in Congress.