Study Touts Benefits of High-Speed Rail for Pacific Northwest

Tue August 27, 2019 - West Edition
AASHTO Journal


A long-awaited Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation Business Case Analysis issued on July 12 claims that an all-electric high-speed rail network linking the major Pacific Northwest cities could cost $24 billion to $42 billion to build while providing between 1.7 million to 3.1 million one-way one to two-hour annual trips at start-up.

The exact route and type of ultra-high-speed transportation has not been determined and would require more analysis, the study noted. All trips are expected to include a stop in greater Vancouver, B.C., the Seattle metro area and Portland, Ore., it noted.

Some trips also may include additional stops in other cities, the study said, including: Surrey, B.C., and Bellingham, Everett, Bellevue/Redmond, Tukwila, Tacoma, Olympia and Kelso/Longview in Washington, the report noted.

According to the study, this ultra-high-speed system is projected to travel at speeds exceeding 200 mph via some form of high-speed rail, magnetic levitation, or hyperloop technology.

The all-electric system would be stand-alone, rather than sharing or relying on existing infrastructure, the report indicated, and would include some elevated tracks and tunnels with no at-grade crossings with roads.

The Washington State Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation, put the report together with the Province of British Columbia and Microsoft helping share in the costs.

Both studies grew out of ongoing Cascadia Innovation Corridor planning efforts, WSDOT said in a statement — a cross-border coalition bringing together business, academic and government leaders to build a global hub of innovation and commerce in the Pacific Northwest.

An advisory committee representing the public, private, and nonprofit sectors from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, provided input during the year-long technical analysis as well, WSDOT noted, with consulting firm WSP along with Steer Davies Gleave, EnviroIssues, Paladin Partners and Transportation Solutions helping complete the final draft.