City of Yakima Vying for Federal Stimulus Money - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

City of Yakima Vying for Federal Stimulus Money

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YAKIMA, Wash-- With people anxiously awaiting President Obama's stimulus plan, everyone wants a slice of the pie. The City of Yakima is no exception, they've been working in DC On the rule making of the stimulus plan.

"Make sure the rules are in there that are flexible enough to give us an opportunity to succeed. Don't make them so stringent so that nobody can tap this money," said Michael Morales, deputy director for Yakima's Department of Community and Economic Development.

Morales said the goal is to make sure this stimulus helps main street and not just bail out a banks. People within Yakima's Department of Community and Economic Development think they can put federal money to good use.

"Our first priority for the stimulus package is the $8 million gap for the railroad grade separation project. Because that project has all the criteria you're looking for in a stimulus package," said Morales.

The railroad project is what Morales calls "shovel ready." Agreements have been reached with Burlington Northern, all traffic flow and environmental studies passed.

While the railroad was very important in the founding of the City of Yakima, now the tracks are hindering progress. An underpass at Lincoln and MLK would help improve traffic flow and emergency response times.

This is especially true for Yakima's fire station on North Front street. "It adds a couple minutes and in our business, time on some calls is critical," said Ron Melcher, Deputy Fire Marshal, YFD.

Not only is the project important for emergency services, Morales said fixing train crossings has become a statewide priority.

"We don't think there's anything in this region that touches it," said Morales.

"Its not just the length of the train it's all the traffic congestion that comes along in the aftermath," said Melcher, about the back-up in front of the station's garage.

Morales said this project will create over 300 jobs, plus bring in construction tax revenue. Congress should announce stimulus plans late February or early March.