Ultra-high-speed study

Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

 
Background

Imagine traveling between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon in just a few hours. WSDOT is studying how ultra-high-speed ground transportation (250 mph and greater) could make this concept a reality.

Why is WSDOT studying ultra-high-speed ground transportation?

The Governor's Office and state Legislature asked WSDOT to study ultra-high-speed ground transportation from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon. Regional business and government leaders believe better connecting the Cascadia Mega Region is key to the region's future.

During a 2016 conference of these leaders, Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed an agreement saying they wanted to work together to create a new technology corridor that would include a high-speed transportation system (pdf 1 mb). With support from the governor, the state Legislature then asked that WSDOT analyze the feasibility of such a system to help lawmakers decide if it makes sense and identify next steps they could take to move it forward. The preliminary feasibility study was submitted to the Legislature in December 2017.

Following release of the 2017 study, the Legislature determined that a more in-depth analysis was warranted and approved funding for WSDOT to conduct a business case study that will be completed in July 2019. British Columbia, Oregon and Microsoft also contributed funding to undertake the next phase of analysis.

2017 Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study

The 2017 Ultra-High Speed Ground Transportation study (pdf 4mb) was submitted to the state Legislature on Dec. 14, 2017; an economic impacts addendum was added to the final report document on Feb. 1, 2018.

Highlights from the December 2017 report (pdf 665 kb) were presented to the Joint Transportation Committee at that time.

2019 study overview

The more in-depth 2019 business case study will include an evaluation of:

  1. Corridor options, including station and alignment opportunities, technologies, and costs
  2. Potential ridership and revenue
  3. Governing structures and economic impacts
  4. Funding and finance alternatives

2018-2019 budget

The study will be paid for with $750,000 from the state Legislature and an additional $750,000 from the Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corp. The study assumes public agencies and the private sector could share future planning, construction and operation costs. A public-private advisory group representing both public and private sectors from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, will provide input during the year-long analysis.

Amtrak Cascades service

Ultra-high-speed ground transportation is not intended to replace the Amtrak Cascades intercity passenger rail system managed and funded by WSDOT and ODOT; it would be an additional travel option and would serve to supplement ridership. Because of shared tracks with freight trains, it is likely not possible to offer ultra-high-speed service on most of the current Amtrak Cascades route. Amtrak Cascades trains travel at 79 mph and serve 18 cities in Canada, Washington and Oregon – more than an ultra-high-speed option would serve.

Contact

Jason Beloso
BelosoJ@wsdot.wa.gov
Strategic Planning Manager
WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division

Janet Matkin
MatkinJ@wsdot.wa.gov
Communications Manager
WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division

Sign up for email bulletins about Ultra-High-Speed Travel.