As Congress begins budget planning, infrastructure improvements and public safety top MGP requests


The Ceres Hill Road Bridge in rural Lewis County presents an obstacle for loggers looking to cross the Chehalis River on their way to and from state Route 6.

“Due to the state of the current bridge, heavy equipment, log trucks, fire equipment and other heavy loads must utilize a longer route to access this area,” timber company Port Blakely wrote in a May 2 letter requesting bridge improvements.

Instead of three minutes to complete, the alternative route results in a 45-minute drive through a series of switchbacks that Lewis County Commissioner Lindsey Pollock described as “dangerous and long.”

That’s why Pollock was so excited that as budget planning for fiscal year 2025 begins, Third Congressional District Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washougal, requested $4 million in federal funds to improve the aging structure.

“Being able to get that repaired will allow them to have much more efficient life safety and fire service to their locations, and also be able to move their products easily,” Pollock said Wednesday.

The request for funds is one of 15 community project funding (CPF) applications Gluesenkamp Perez submitted that total $35.6 million, which range from a $2 million sewer extension project in Battle Ground to $5 million for the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife to remove sea lions on the lower Columbia River and tributaries.

According to Gluesenkamp Perez, the requests prioritize geographical diversity, community impact and support, and would help address some of Southwest Washington’s most urgent needs.

“For residents and businesses situated beyond the Ceres Hill Road Bridge, the reduction in load capacity can result in a 45-minute detour for emergency vehicles and trucks with larger loads,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement to The Chronicle. “Repairing this bridge and restoring its capacity is important for supporting rural public safety, timber businesses, and ag producers — so I’ll work to get much-needed funding for this project.”

Across Lewis County, the requests include funds for energy improvements at Adna Middle and High School, Lewis County public safety radio, and sea lion mitigation and salmon protection projects throughout the district.

“Across Southwest Washington, I’ve heard from community members and local leaders about much-needed projects that have the potential to transform our rural economies, support public health and safety, and get resources to those who need them most. In the coming months, I’m going to fight to bring our tax dollars home for these investments and work to ensure they have the greatest impact in our communities,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement. “In March, I secured $21 million for projects all across our district, and I’m excited to build on that progress by requesting funding for 15 new, community-led projects.”

Pollock was equally excited Wednesday about a nearly million-dollar request to improve public safety radio in the County. The $980,000 request would provide the 911 center money to upgrade aging communications systems and harden sites against power failure.

“One of the things I campaigned on is trying to get our radio system improved, and so now we are making massive investments,” Pollock said. “It all takes money, and being able to get more and the return of our federal tax dollars to address public safety is always in our best interest.”

In a letter of support for the proposal, the Lewis County Fire Chiefs Association said the current system “has seen no significant changes or upgrades” in nearly 25 years.

“It can be difficult enough for first responders to communicate across expansive, mountainous terrain in rural communities without the use of outdated radio equipment,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement to The Chronicle. “Getting funding home to upgrade public safety communications in Lewis County will help law enforcement, firefighters and EMS stay safe on the job and more swiftly coordinate responses to emergencies.”

In Adna, Gluesenkamp Perez also requested $5 million for Adna Middle and High School to improve the aging HVAC system, hot water system, boilers and windows. In a letter of support, two longtime residents said that as their five children have attended the school over the years, they’ve seen the facilities deteriorate.

Coupled with a struggle to pass a construction bond or levy, which they said would “make it hard to make ends meet,” the couple wrote that the federal funding would provide much-needed upgrades to the school.

“The Adna School District has a proven track record of doing the most for the money for our school,” the couple wrote. “We strongly believe this Grant will be the right solution for our school and community.”

According to Gluesenkamp Perez, the windows and HVAC system at the school are more than three decades old.

“Kids can’t learn when it’s 90 degrees in their math class,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “By bringing these dollars home to make these investments, we can help students succeed in the classroom for years to come, while avoiding impacts on hardworking taxpayers already facing high costs.”

According to a representative for Glusenkamp Perez, the requests will likely be rolled into funding bills that must pass by Sept. 30 to avoid a potential government shutdown. Over the next several months, he said, the freshmen representative will work with the House Appropriations Committee and her colleagues “on both sides of the aisle” to advocate for the funding.

The requests from Gluesenkamp Perez come after she secured more than $21 million in a package of spending bills that Congress approved earlier this spring. In that round of federal funding, the projects included $4.1 million for a public grain storage and trans-loading facility at the Port of Chehalis and $950,000 to support a sewer installation project in Packwood.

The spending bills also included $4 million for the United Learning Center in Centralia, which was secured by Sen. Patty Murray.