U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $31 Million to Improve Rail Service in Washington State
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $31.1 million for the State of Washington to improve intercity passenger and freight rail service on the Cascades line.
“The investments we’re making in the Cascades line will improve reliability and service for passengers while putting people to work on crucial rail projects,” said Secretary LaHood. “It’s a win-win because these investments will also help create jobs and grow the economy by building and maintaining railways with American-made materials.”
A highlight of the rail dollars includes:
• Pacific Northwest Corridor – $16.1 million for design, environmental review and construction work to stabilize and improve track structure along the rail line between Blaine, WA, and the Columbia River Bridge in Vancouver, WA. The upgrades along this route will increase service reliability by reducing the number of closures and delays due to inclement weather.
• Vancouver-Port Access Rail Improvements – $15 million for construction of a new, rail access route to the Port of Vancouver, including grade separation at an existing rail crossing which has acted as a significant choke point for rail traffic. This enhancement will substantially minimize delays affecting freight trains and Amtrak’s Cascades service. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Port of Vancouver are contributing a combined total of $22 million to this project. Construction is expected to begin in July 2012.
Amtrak’s Cascades Service is one of its faster growing routes. Ridership grew 10 percent in 2010 to 838,251 passengers, and is trending to break that record in 2011.
“Ridership continues to grow with travelers choosing Amtrak Cascades in record numbers,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “Securing these federal dollars gets us going on improvements to make the service more reliable so our passengers can get to their destinations on time,” she said.
Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for passenger rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations have provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing new and expanded rail access to communities and improving the reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service.