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Map shows route of future high-speed rail project connecting major US cities along the West Coast: ‘State of the art’

"To transport people efficiently, reliably and environmentally friendly."

Photo credit: Cascadia Rail

For years, the idea of ​​a high-speed rail line in the Pacific Northwest felt like a distant dream. But now, thanks to the efforts of several advocates and some funding from the Department of Transportation, these plans are taking shape.

A map for the proposed route was recently unveiled, showing how the high-speed rail corridor would connect Portland, Oregon, to Vancouver, British Columbia, stopping in Seattle along the way and possibly extending south to Eugene, Oregon. According to Newsweek, the “state of the art” trains would take passengers from Seattle to Portland in less than an hour, cutting travel time by more than 67%.

In December, the Washington State Department of Transportation received a $500,000 Corridor Identification and Development program grant to help explore the project. Another $500,000 grant was also spent improving existing train services between Vancouver and Eugene.

WSDOT “is very pleased with the federal support for both of these important passenger rail programs,” said Washington State Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. “These two complementary systems could be connected to transport people efficiently, reliably and in an environmentally friendly manner. We are planning improvements for current rail passengers and envision an even more robust system in the future.”

Similar projects are happening across the U.S., thanks in large part to the Federal Railroad Administration’s announcement of more than $8 billion in funding for track improvement projects in December 2023. From high-speed routes in Texas and California to electric rail lines in Las Vegas, advocates for rail travel feel feel optimistic.

These proponents give several reasons for the importance of developing rail travel, including but not limited to significantly reducing travel times, creating jobs, and reducing the pollution it causes to the Earth.

Currently, transportation-related pollution is responsible for nearly a third of all pollution in the US; However, according to Our World in Data, the carbon footprint of train travel is about one-fifth that of traveling the same distance by car.

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Cascadia Rail’s website emphasizes that this project would benefit the Pacific Northwest for “workers, quality of life, business, tourism, economic development” and would “less spoil Cascadia with long drives and busy roads.”

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