There are two visions for the way forward for passenger rail in Washington: Cascadia Excessive Velocity Rail and Amtrak Cascades. As a result of they run at totally different speeds, the prices, infrastructure and land necessities are very totally different. We oppose the proposed HSR plan and suggest the Amtrak Cascades as a wiser use of the land.
British Columbia, Washington and Oregon signed an settlement to construct ultra-high-speed trains to run at speeds of 220 miles per hour or extra from Vancouver, BC, to Portland.
The high-speed rail proposal could be costly, primarily by way of infrastructure and land. An impartial guide abstract and full ultimate report back to the Washington Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee particulars the method’s complexity, decades-long timeline and prices — possible as much as $150 billion. The land necessities are huge: 220 miles of straight highway and 90 miles of tunnels underneath cities. To realize excessive velocity, solely three stops are indicated. There aren’t any printed stations or routes. The runway would want a strip of land within the space of Seattle-Tacoma Worldwide Airport — about 3,000 acres — and take a long time, not years to construct, because it does in California.
In the meantime, Amtrak Cascades is our present 18-stop regional line from Vancouver, BC, to Eugene, Ore., however velocity and reliability are restricted by insufficient infrastructure. Just a few American trains, such because the Acela (Boston to Washington, DC), and Florida’s new Brightline, journey sooner than 120 km/h. Amtrak Cascades has by no means met the two.5 hour journey time between Seattle and Portland specified by our legislature in 1993. It was solely 47% on time in 2022 – clearly unacceptable.
The Washington State Division of Transportation’s new Amtrak Cascades Service Growth Plan has 5 choices. Nobody will obtain dependable 2.5-hour journey occasions with out new infrastructure funding. Amongst them: Level Defiance Bypass curve revision, the place speeds are actually restricted to 30 mph, a brand new expressway bridge over the Nisqually River for each Amtrak and Sound Transit trains, a 110 mph third observe between Lacey and Centralia, and extra.
The coalition of rail, well being and local weather teams we symbolize favors these upgrades, costing lower than $15 billion, on about 300 new acres — in comparison with 3,000 for the high-speed rail proposal. It’s one-tenth of the associated fee and one-tenth of the brand new land requirement. WSDOT, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Nisqually Tribe and Pierce and Thurston Counties should determine how finest to move folks and items throughout the Nisqually River. WSDOT’s plan to widen Interstate 5 to eight lanes will enhance the variety of automobile miles traveled previous the Billy Frank Jr. Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. It’s opposite to the intention of the laws to cut back such journeys and thus greenhouse gases all through the nation. An upgraded Cascades and Sounder extension to Lacey may immediate I-5 drivers to modify to passenger trains to stave off this critical local weather failure.
We should select properly in 2024. Inform your legislators the way you and your youngsters will use our treasured inexperienced earth. We want Amtrak Cascades upgrades by 2030, not extremely excessive velocity rail in 2050, for our well being and local weather.