Washington State Senate Approves High-Speed Rail Funding
The state could benefit from $700 million in federal assistance if funding is approved.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state senators have taken a step toward establishing a high-speed rail system connecting Oregon to Canada.
A proposal to spend $150 million on creating a system passed the Senate on Tuesday night.
“We have a long way to go,” said Senator Marko Liias (D-Edmonds).
Liias envisions high-speed trains taking passengers through the Interstate 5 corridor in 2040. But now is the time to act, he said.
“If we don’t start now, we’ll never get there,” Liias said.
Part of its proposed $16 billion transportation package, Senate Bill 5974, includes spending $150 on a high-speed system linking Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, British Columbia. That funding would qualify the state for $700 million in federal grants, according to Liias.
The potential route would take passengers at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour. The trip from Seattle to Portland or Vancouver would take about an hour.
we Representative Marilyn Strickland (D-Washington) encouraged state lawmakers to act to leverage federal funding.
“These investments are essential and will create geographic equity for workers, promote economic prosperity, leverage our assets, and facilitate the movement of people and goods. I encourage state lawmakers to pass this budget so we don’t run out of federal funding to help make high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest a reality,” Strickland said in a written statement.
Luis Moscoso, Director of Government Affairs for All aboard Washington, a nonprofit rail advocacy group, said his organization supports the idea of a high-speed train. However, the state should also improve and expand existing rail systems by applying for additional federal grants, he said.
“We can pull these rail plans off the shelf and start looking at what Amtrak stunts can add in additional service on the I-5 corridor now, as well as expanding service eastward from Washington, which is left out for now,” Moscoso mentioned.
The transportation package is heading home.