WSDOT, Amtrak, BNSF and FRA have signed an agreement to begin spending a $590 million federal high speed rail grant.

The projects funded will result in:
  • Two additional daily Amtrak Cascades round trips will be added between Seattle and Portland, for a total six, by 2017
  • On-time reliability is expected to increase from 62 to 88 percent
  • More consistent speeds will be possible throughout the corridor, resulting in faster travel times between Seattle and Portland
  • Major construction projects will be completed that will include building bypass tracks to allow for increased train frequency and multiple upgrades to existing track
  • Several safety-related projects will be completed, including grade separations and the latest technology in advanced-warning signal systems. This will reduce passenger/freight congestion, making passenger travel times shorter with more reliable on-time service.

Reaching the agreement will contractually obligate the $590 million and should prevent the House from rescinding the funding.

Ridership continues to grow on Amtrak Cascades, with a 10 percent increase between 2009 and 2010. Since Amtrak Cascades service began in 1994, annual ridership has increased from 100,000 to 840,000 last year.

WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond statement:
“Signing this agreement now means work can begin during this year’s construction season,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, noting that the ARRA funds will create more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Pacific Northwest. “Ultimately, the goal is to boost the rail-line capacity and relieve mainline congestion, allowing Amtrak Cascades to offer more frequent and reliable passenger rail service between Portland and Seattle.”
Governor Chris Gregoire statement:
“This is another great development for our state in that this rail work will generate thousands of highly skilled construction and operating jobs and result in important improvements in rail passenger service.”
Senator Patty Murray statement:
“At a time when good paying construction jobs are not easy to find, this is welcome news for our state,” said Senator Murray. “This agreement means that we can now get moving on a number of job-creating projects that will get freight and Amtrak trains moving more quickly along the I-5 corridor. And as all of us who have sat in traffic on I-5 know, we need to find better ways to move commuters and goods throughout our state. While this agreement may have been a long time in the making for many of us, the fact is it’s here and it’s time to get workers on the job.”
Rep. Rick Larsen statement:
"This agreement will allow Washington state to begin investing in our high-speed rail system, which will grow the economy by providing good local jobs and helping commerce and passengers travel more efficiently throughout the region," said Rep. Larsen. "I congratulate WSDOT, BNSF and Amtrak for their hard work in completing the stakeholder agreement, which will allow federal grant dollars to immediately go to work creating jobs in our local communities."
USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood statement:
"Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and flexibility of all parties involved in the negotiations, this agreement will immediately put Washingtonians to work in good paying jobs, significantly improve rail service for commuters and travelers, and preserve the world-class freight rail system America has today.”
Look here for additional information on Washington state’s vision for these rail investments.

Posted On 2/26/2011 01:26:00 PM by Larry Ehl |

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