Volz and Schmidt say visit by Spokane officials key to receiving new funds for North-South freeway

When Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee first revealed his transportation budget earlier this year, Spokane-area legislators and local elected officials were stunned with his attempts to delay funding for the North-South freeway, or North Spokane Corridor.

Public statements were sent out, local and state meetings were quickly organized, and a concerted effort was made to make sure the Legislature’s proposed transportation budgets corrected Inslee’s shortsightedness.

Rep. Mike Volz, R-Spokane, and Rep. Suzanne Schmidt, R-Spokane Valley, are both members of the House Transportation Committee. They gave credit to Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and Spokane County Commission Chair Mary Kuney for helping make the case for the region when they visited Olympia earlier in the legislative session.

“The House transportation budget includes additional funding for the North Spokane Corridor,” said Volz. “I think Spokane owes a huge debt of gratitude to its mayor and the chair of the county commission. They were instrumental in making the case for the safety and transportation needs of our citizens. They were able to make it personal, yet at the same time, point out the economic advantages for our local economy both through continuing the construction projects and through increased transportation opportunities for our region.”

“I want to thank these two very intelligent, hardworking women for making the trek over the mountains to join with us in Olympia to make the case for the North Spokane Corridor,” said Schmidt. “Their persistence and optimism in the face of uncertainty as the executive branch made its case for delaying this much-needed project was as infectious as it was effective.”

Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia and the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, commended the efforts of Spokane’s local officials as they worked together with members of the Legislature.

“Representatives Mike Volz and Suzanne Schmidt do a great job bringing people together to find solutions to large and small problems alike,” said Barkis. “They collaborate well with their local elected officials and stakeholders to bring their needs to the table. They are very well versed on the transportation and economic needs of their districts and their region. They do a commendable job representing Spokane, Spokane Valley, and all of Eastern Washington.”

Barkis said their efforts, along with Woodward and Kuney’s, helped forestall Inslee’s delay of the North Spokane Corridor. In addition, the House transportation budget allocates an extra $176 million to fully fund the project to Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) request level and keep it moving forward and on schedule.

While the final 2023 transportation budget will be decided in a conference committee between House and Senate transportation budget writers, Volz said the fact that both budgets ignored Inslee’s recommendations bodes well for Spokane.

“We don’t know yet what the final budget will look like. We’re not at the end of the road when it comes to the legislative transportation budget process. But with both the House and Senate versions including more funding for the North Spokane Corridor, I think we’re in pretty good shape,” said Volz.

The 105-day 2023 legislative session is scheduled to end April 23.

“Rep. Schmidt and Rep. Volz on the House floor during debate” – photo courtesy of Washington State Legislature


Washington State House Republican Communications