Local Information

New study to consider potential for one-hour trips from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and Portland

Thursday, July 26, 2018 - 08:51

Janet Matkin, communications, 360-705-7966

WSDOT, ODOT, Province of British Columbia and Microsoft contribute $1.5 million to Cascadia Innovation Corridor efforts

OLYMPIA – A new in-depth study to evaluate the future of ultra-high-speed ground transportation is now underway as the Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corp., have joined Washington state in funding the effort.

The three partners announced on Thursday, July 26, that they were contributing a combined $750,000 toward the study efforts. This is in addition to the $750,000 the Washington State Legislature provided to the Washington State Department of Transportation earlier this year – for a total of $1.5 million.

This new study builds on a preliminary analysis (pdf 1.8 mb) conducted in 2017 for a new 250 mph transportation system in the Pacific Northwest. That study laid the groundwork for the more in-depth business case evaluation that WSDOT will undertake over the next year. The need for the study grew out of ongoing Cascadia Innovation Corridor planning efforts. This cross-border coalition brings together business, academic and government leaders to build a global hub of innovation and commerce in the Pacific Northwest.

“We developed a vision for a better connected Cascadia mega region that will help our talented entrepreneurs, researchers and workers share knowledge and expand economic opportunity. The possibilities created by connecting our three largest cities via a high-speed transportation options are really exciting,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“High-speed rail would cut travel times between Vancouver and Seattle and bring huge benefits to British Columbia,” said Premier John Horgan. “We’re excited about this next step and look forward to the findings of Washington’s in-depth study.”

“We are excited to see regional leaders invest in the continued pursuit of a high-speed rail that will help grow economic opportunities in the Cascadia Innovation Corridor,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Shrinking the distance between Seattle, Vancouver, BC and Portland will encourage greater collaboration, deeper economic ties and balanced growth for years to come.”

Through a competitive process, WSDOT selected the engineering and professional services firm WSP to complete this business case study. WSP, formerly Parsons Brinckerhoff, has worked on high-speed rail projects in the United States and around the world, including California, the United Kingdom, and southeast Asia. Other members of the team include Steer Davies Gleave, EnviroIssues, Paladin Partners, and Transportation Solutions.

A new advisory committee, representing both public and private sectors from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, will provide input during the year-long technical analysis. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for later this month.

The upcoming study marks another milestone toward a more connected Cascadia Innovation Corridor and shows the shared vision between the region’s public and private sectors to enhance cross-border transportation linkages. The study will identify potential corridors for ultra-high-speed ground transportation, estimate potential ridership, refine cost estimates and analyze both international and United States high-speed rail infrastructure projects to identify lessons learned.

Funding for the new study includes $750,000 from WSDOT, $300,000 (Canadian dollars) from the Province of British Columbia, $200,000 from the Oregon Department of Transportation and $300,000 from Microsoft. It is expected the study will be completed by July 2019.

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