As Chairman of Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Murray worked with Transportation Secretary to ensure Washington state’s needs and previous investments were considered in decision on where to make improvements nationwide
Funding will go to build capability in the Pacific Northwest’s Cascades corridor, help speed travel for commuters and commerce
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that $590 million in federal funding will go to Washington state for high speed rail upgrades in the Pacific Northwest Cascades corridor. The funding is part of a major high speed rail initiative that Senator Murray helped include in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Since the Pacific Northwest was named one of the 10 potential regions to receive funds for high speed rail in April 2009, Senator Murray has worked with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to build support for states like Washington where the groundwork for high speed rail lines has been underway through previous state and federal investments and where improvements would help provide an alternative to congested roadways and spur economic activity. Secretary LaHood called Senator Murray yesterday to inform her that Washington would be among the state’s receiving high speed rail funding.
“This is a big win for Washington on a number of levels,” said Senator Murray. “It’s going to help us to create new jobs, make travel more efficient for commuters , make shipping faster for businesses, and will have clear environmental and energy benefits.”
“Anybody who travels the I-5 corridor in our state knows that we need to find new, efficient options to get commuters and commerce moving. And anybody interested in boosting our state’s economy knows that now is a great time to take action. Thankfully, Washington state and Oregon have already been working since the early 1990’s to study and build faster rail service along the Cascade Corridor. This funding is the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to help make these improvements a reality.”
Both Washington and Oregon’s Departments of Transportation have cooperated since the early 90’s to study, define, and build High Speed Rail along the Cascade Corridor. Both states have bought trains capable of 125 mph, improved track and signal systems, refurbished rail stations and increased operating funds - as a result ridership in the Cascade Corridor continues to increase. However, the Cascade trains are still limited to 79 mph due to needed safety and freight traffic improvements on the line.
The funding announced today will go to several proposed projects in segments of the Cascade Corridor that will serve to speed service throughout the entire corridor. Decisions on specific project locations will be made by the Washington State Department of Transportation.