One way or another, high-speed rail looks poised to get a deeper study in Washington state. On Wednesday, transportation committees of the Washington State Legislature convened to consider competing supplemental transportation budgets. Both budget proposals contained provisos to continue studying the topic in the state in addition to segments extending into Oregon and British Columbia. The proposals, however, differed from a request submitted by Governor Jay Inslee (D-Washington) in January.
The governor’s initial proposal sought $3.6 million in state funding to complete a detailed business case analysis of high-speed rail, building up the work from a study released in December by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that found it to be viable. The analysis under the governor’s proposal would be conducted over the next year and a half requiring WSDOT to consider three corridor variations between Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. The proposal also sought to conduct market analysis of potential riders by area served and evaluate a variety of relevant factors (e.g., service levels, operational model, equipment needs, ridership, comparative market analysis, public-private partnership scenarios, and financing and fares).
Transportation committees in the upper and lower chambers of the legislature approved different approaches to conducting the business case analysis and contain much smaller funding amounts than the governor’s proposal.