On March 10, the Washington State Legislature signed off on a historic transportation package. The Move Ahead Washington bill invests $16.9 billion over 16 years on major projects throughout the state, with $150 million towards high-speed rail between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.
The high-speed rail funding will allow Washington to seek out matching federal grants that could total around $700 million, allowing the required planning work to move forward. This should help answer key, open questions about the line’s viability, funding sources and timeframe.
With a population of 9 million people, which is expected to grow by about 4 million by 2050, the Cascadia region is calling out for high-speed rail. The project has racked up high-profile support over time, with Microsoft, Challenge Seattle and many elected officials backing the project, among others. It also was found to have overwhelming support among the general population. A recent poll showed 67% of Washingtonians support connecting the major cities of the region with high-speed rail, along with 60% of Oregonians. Only 27% across the two states were in opposition.
This level of public support and funding should help the project as it moves forward and we must work to recreate this excitement for high-speed rail in states across the country.