November 12, 2010
  

Cascadia Urges Northwest to Seek Unused Rail Funds

cascadia center staff

HSR Corridors Map.png

Following the news that several governors-elect in the Midwest are indicating they will opt-out of high-speed rail funds from the federal government, Cascadia Center and advocacy group All Aboard Washington have urged Northwest leaders to act fast in case those funds might be reallocated to other corridors, such as the Cascadia Corridor. From a letter signed by Cascadia and All Aboard Washington and addressed to Governor Gregoire:

We are proud of the direct role you took in helping convince the Canadian government to continue to waive the inspection fee for the second Amtrak train to Vancouver, B.C. Your letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews that articulated the economic benefits to B.C. helped save the day.

We again need your advocacy for future high-speed rail (HSR) on the Amtrak Cascades corridor from Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C. We request that you share with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo and Talgo executive Antonio Perez that Washington state has an interest in any reprogrammed HSR funding that might result from other states rejecting their funding allocated in the Recovery Act.
Our state's excellent technical applications secured nearly $640 million in the first two rounds of funding, and we believe they should receive an equitable proportion of any redirected funding.



Full Text of Cascadia Center and All Aboard Washington Letter to Governor Gregoire

November 12, 2010

The Honorable Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Dear Governor Gregoire:

We are proud of the direct role you took in helping convince the Canadian government to continue to waive the inspection fee for the second Amtrak train to Vancouver, B.C. Your letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews that articulated the economic benefits to B.C. helped save the day.

We again need your advocacy for future high-speed rail (HSR) on the Amtrak Cascades corridor from Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C. We request that you share with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo and Talgo executive Antonio Perez that Washington state has an interest in any reprogrammed HSR funding that might result from other states rejecting their funding allocated in the Recovery Act. Our state's excellent technical applications secured nearly $640 million in the first two rounds of funding, and we believe they should receive an equitable proportion of any redirected funding.

As you know, Governors-elect Scott Walker and John Kasich of Wisconsin and Ohio, respectfully, have said they will reject over $1.2 billion in HSR funding allocated as part of the Recovery Act. New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has started the stampede to claim those rejected funds for job creation and green house gas reduction in his state. We respect and support Governor-elect Cuomo's political and policy advocacy for a strong federal program for HSR. But he and others should be reminded that Washington state was here first--with over $300 million in direct state support for capital and operations investment as part of nearly $1 billion in partnership investments in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia for the highly successful Cascades service since 1994. In the first two rounds of federal HSR, New York received $177 million.

Additionally, while both our states have Amtrak routes that connect Canada, our state has had a more engaged dialogue with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Canada's Border Services Agency concerning train inspection and clearance systems which could result in significant travel time savings for service to Canada.

Finally, on a related note, train manufacturer, Talgo, which has its U.S. headquarters in Seattle, has invested millions in a new manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. While we hope Wisconsin wakes up to the permanent job opportunities from train manufacturing, we recommend you pursue the relocation of the Talgo facility to Washington state--perhaps along the economically distressed area of southwest Washington. Our state has a long and successful history with Talgo--reaching back to the mid-1990s. The move would complement Amtrak's new maintenance facility in south Seattle.

Thank you in advance for your ongoing efforts toward securing the region's HSR future.

Sincerely,
Bruce Agnew
Director
Cascadia Center for Regional Development
208 Columbia Street
Seattle, WA 98104
206-292-0401 x113

Loren Herrigstad
President
All Aboard Washington
P.O. Box 70381
Seattle, WA 98127
206-784-9232

cc:
WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond
Washington State Rail and Marine Director Scott Witt
U.S. Sen. Murray
U.S. Sen. Cantwell
U.S. Rep. Larsen
U.S. Rep. Inslee
U.S. Rep. Reichert
U.S. Rep. McDermott
U.S. Rep. Dicks
U.S. Rep. Herrera
Washington State Sen. Haugen
Washington State Rep. Clibborn
Members of Washington State House and Senate transportation committees
4:30 PM |

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