Center gets $1.4 million from federal spending bill

Enumclaw’s long-anticipated Welcome Center received a healthy financial boost last week when it was announced that $1.425 million for the project was included in a spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by the president.

News of the federal appropriation was released through the office of Sen. Patty Murray.

The funding is tied to one portion of the larger Welcome Center project, specifically earmarked for the 1.8-acre transit facility component. The transit facility will provide long and short-term parking, shuttle service to local attractions and is seen as a way to help reduce congestion in the area.

The city has been spearheading the Welcome Center project for a decade and anticipates breaking ground this year. The facility – which will house offices of the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, along with the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center – is to be built on city-owned land on the eastern edge of town. The center will front state Route 410 and sit between the Enumclaw Expo Center fieldhouse and the Enumclaw Golf Course.

“This project will help to save and create local jobs, reduce congestion and improve safety along 410,” Murray stated in a press release. “With our economy reeling, it’s important that we continue to invest in projects that will protect family-wage jobs. I am proud to work to help return Enumclaw residents’ taxpayer dollars to a project in their own backyard.”

Federal money has long been sought, as development of the Welcome Center has been tied to a goal of reducing traffic in Mount Rainier National Park.

“The Welcome Center transit facility provides a natural transition point between the urbanized areas and the much-used and valuable natural resources found in Mount Rainier National Park and other adjacent federal lands,” Enumclaw Mayor John Wise said.

The transit facility will provide parking for a minimum of 100 vehicles and create a transit facility for shuttle services to the national park, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Crystal Mountain ski resort and other points of interest along SR 410.

Reach Kevin Hanson at khanson@courierherald.com or 360-802-8205.