Stakeholders call for federal funding for Cascadia rail line


As Sound Transit grapples with project cost overruns and delayed timelines for its light rail system, a group of Washington politicians and businesses are calling on the federal government to support a regional line project to high speed train (LGV). The July letter to the Washington State Congressional delegation presents the “bullet train” as a means of improving trade ties with British Columbia and transportation in a context of population growth.

“The development of very high speed ground transportation will unleash the full potential of Cascadia businesses and other innovators, strategically address concerns that may otherwise arise from continued growth, and improve the quality of life for area residents.” The letter says. “This project represents a future of robust mobility, fair access to opportunities, good jobs and a safe and sustainable environment.

Signatories include:

  • Boeing Chairman Stan Deal
  • Cascadia Rail Chair Paige Mallot
  • Costco CEO Craig Jelinek
  • Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin
  • Peter Kern, CEO of Expedia Group
  • Tom Alberg, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group
  • Microsoft President Brad Smith
  • King Dow County Constantine

“Cascadia has taken the first critical steps, but federal support is needed to move this project forward,” the July letter reads.

The state first examined the concept in a 1992 study, but discussions around the idea resumed in 2017 when a group of companies and public actors proposed a public-private partnership for a train. from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle and Portland. The legislature and private companies funded a study and business analysis that indicated the overall concept to be sound, although these findings were challenged by transportation analyst Thomas A. Rubin.

Rubin wrote in an email that supporters of the bullet train “have not addressed any of our concerns.”

For advocates of high-speed trains, the line could help the region absorb growth by allowing residents to live further away from employment centers in “hub cities” with lower house prices, but still able. to move. It’s a phenomenon that’s already happening in the central Puget Sound area as people move up and down the Interstate 5 corridor to places like Arlington and Marysville. Washington’s Amtrak Cascades trains currently run to Portland and Vancouver, BC, but their maximum speed is 79 miles per hour (mph), while a high-speed train can go at 250 mph, or three times that speed.

However, states such as California attempted to create a high-speed train line only to see the project completely derail amid massive cost overruns and ultimately abandon the use of high-speed trains. Rubin noted that the same consulting firm involved in the California project conducted the Cascadia line feasibility study.

While the letter cites other similar projects across the country, Rubin wrote that “there are huge differences… especially in the speed of travel and the degree of government funding requested. California is, by far, the closest match to Cascadia and by all accounts it’s a total wet mess, highly questionable how many will be built, without even guessing when the main section might go into service. “

He added: “If the Cascadia supporters want to compare their project to the California bullet train, go ahead, that seems totally appropriate to me – the disaster that we’re having in California high speed seems to be a very good predictor of. what would happen to our northern cousins. Does anyone ever try to learn anything from the mistakes others make? “

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