Cascadia Rail 900k graphic

Last week, the Washington State House came through with $900,000 to partially fund a business case study of high-speed rail connecting Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. Meanwhile, the Washington State Senate dropped the ball, allocating no money for the $3.6 million investment grade study Governor Jay Inslee requested, with rail advocates cheering on.

“High-speed rail, you cannot overstate what that would mean for the economies of both regions,” Governor Inslee said last fall.

The bills are in conference committee, so now is the time to pressure the state senators to follow the house’s lead and fund the study.

The House actually added $300,000 in state-backed funding for the study over an earlier proposal last week and keeps open the possibility for a further $300,000 in local and private funding match, totaling $1.2 million. In committee, Senator Marko Liias (D-Edmonds) had tried to come up with a comparable proposal but pulled an amendment at the last minute, and no funding was added in passing the bill out of the Senate.

There are reasons to like some elements of the Senate language since it included $250,000 in state funding to study passenger rail to Eastern Washington via Stampede Pass and creating a workgroup to study electrification of mainline railroads in the state. The Senate also left open the door to a $3.6 million business case study of high-speed rail if local or private dollars were provided.

Cascadia Rail is urging supporters to contact state representatives by Monday with this prompt:

Rep Judy Clibborn’s (D-Mercer Island) House Transportation Committee has provided about $1 million to advance study of ultra high speed connections (high speed rail, maglev or hyperloop) between our cities to make this a reality. Unfortunately, the Senate is yet to fund this, providing $0 state money for further study.

This could be decided BY EARLY NEXT WEEK! So please contact the legislators below on the Senate Transportation committee soon to urge them to fund this critical study. It could provide economic development, better quality of life and less wasted time for millions.

The list of suggested state senators include:

?Sen Hobbs (D), – (360) 786-7686
?Sen Saldana (D), – (360) 786-7688
?Sen King (R), – (360) 786-7626
?Sen Chase (D), – (360) 786-7662
?Sen Cleveland (D), – (360) 786-7696
?Sen Dhingra (D), – (360) 786-7672
?Sen Fortunato (R), – (360) 786-7660
?Sen Liias (D), – (360) 786-7640
?Sen McCoy (D), – (360) 786-7674
?Sen OBan (R), – (360) 786-7654
?Sen Sheldon (R), – (360) 786-7668
?Sen Takko (D), – (360) 786-7636
?Sen Walsh (R), – (360) 786-7630
?Sen Wellman (D), – (360) 786-7641
?Sen Zeiger (R), – (360) 786-7648

The featured image is by Cascadia Rail.

Olympia Poised to Partially Fund High-Speed Rail ‘Business Case’ Study

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.