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State of Washington’s Congressional Delegation Supports Cascadia High-Speed Rail Project in Letter to Secretary Buttigieg

By Kate Snyder

Several members of Congress have reaffirmed their support for a high-speed rail system connecting Seattle, Portland and British Columbia. In a recent open letter addressed to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, a group of Washington’s congressional delegation argued in favor of the Cascadia High-Speed Rail project, a proposal to connect the Cascadia region through high speed rail. The letter writers urged Secretary Buttigieg to provide the federal funding needed that, combined with the state funding already pledged, would advance the project forward.

Among those who signed the letter are U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representatives Suzan K. DelBene, Rick Larsen, Marilyn Strickland, Adam Smith, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier and Derek Kilmer.

“The Cascadia High-Speed Rail project has the potential to transform the Pacific Northwest,” the letter states. “It allows us to create a better-connected economic megaregion – stretching from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon – that will be poised for global competitiveness and future prosperity.”

In the letter, details about the project and its benefits were outlined. The key component of project supporters’ vision is a fast, frequent, reliable and environmentally responsible transportation system that unites the Cascadia megaregion. In addition to traveling up to 250 miles per hour, a high-speed rail system can also lead to better access to jobs, affordable housing, climate initiatives, shared resources, enhanced productivity, increased tourism and economic growth. According to the letter, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, B.C., are expected to add three to four million more people by 2050. The Cascadia High-Speed Rail project is one way that level of growth can be managed.

“Providing a fast and efficient transportation system would allow people to live in less densely populated areas and work anywhere in the megaregion,” the letter states. “It also would facilitate more resiliency, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing across many sectors of our economy, uniting us in ways that are not possible today.”

The letter also argues that the project meets the criteria for the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Cascadia rail project would create stronger connections between Oregon, Washington and British Columbia; decrease emissions on Interstate 5 by reducing congestion; and reduce barriers to opportunities by connecting people to jobs, educational institutions, housing and regional destinations.

According to the letter, the project would also help transform the nation’s transportation infrastructure by linking communities and job centers to accommodate the region’s growing populations. It would also bring a focus to equitable engagement and ensure early collaboration with Tribes and First Nations as well as historically underserved communities throughout the corridor.

“Projects like the Cascadia High-Speed Rail system are designed to serve future generations – our children and grandchildren – and that type of forward-thinking is what is needed to provide them with the infrastructure they need to succeed,” the letter states. “As representatives for our current and future constituents in Washington state, we believe this project deserves in-depth analysis and the funding needed to move this project forward.”