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Washington Legislature Funds Further Study Of Portland-Seattle-Vancouver Bullet Train

LWYang -
The Washington state Legislature approved further study of bullet train service from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver, BC. This file photo shows a train from South Korea's KTX high speed line.

The Washington Legislature Thursday approved further study of a super-fast train from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver, BC.

The Legislature passed and sent to the governor's desk a supplemental transportation budget which includes up to $1.2 million for a consultant to prepare a "business case analysis" of bullet train service from Portland to Vancouver, BC with stops in between.

Lawmakers have qualms about the costs, but Senate Transportation Committee Chair Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said the governor really wanted to press ahead. 

"I have my doubts of course, but if there is a possibility—with all the population coming in to Washington state, especially the Puget Sound area—if there are ways we can get cars off the road then we should try to explore that," Hobbs said. "Let's let the study go forward and see what happens." 

The business case analysis would build on a feasibility study completed in December. That first study assumed the railway or tube to enable travel speeds in excess of 250 miles per hour would require a substantial amount of tunneling at potentially "astronomical" cost.

The Democrat-controlled Legislature gave the Washington State Department of Transportation a June 2019 deadline to deliver the business case analysis report. Gov. Jay Inslee originally asked for $3.6 million to prepare a comprehensive analysis of ultra-high speed rail in Cascadia, but that funding request was slashed by the Legislature.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.