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News / Clark County News

Proposed high-speed train could stop in Vancouver

B.C. gives $300,000 to pad Washington's planned business case analysis

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 16, 2018, 7:44pm
2 Photos
British Columbia Premier John Horgan, left, listens as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks Friday in Vancouver, B.C., during a news conference about high-speed rail.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan, left, listens as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks Friday in Vancouver, B.C., during a news conference about high-speed rail. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) Photo Gallery

The prospect of the Pacific Northwest’s largest cities being connected by a train capable of traveling 250 mph or faster received a nudge from the region’s political leaders on Friday.

During a press conference in Vancouver, B.C., Gov. Jay Inslee and the Premier of British Columbia John Horgan announced the provincial government would contribute $300,000 to a Washington state business case analysis for a high-speed rail line between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and Portland, with potential stops along the way.

Last week, the Washington Legislature set aside $1.2 million toward the study.

“We have taken the first step. … Washington conducted a feasibility study, and it came back with nothing but optimism,” Inslee said, referencing a study submitted to the Legislature last December that predicted the route could have up to 2.1 million riders annually by 2035, and could cost between $24 billion and $42 billion to construct. “This is the second step. It is a business case analysis. It is designed to bring stakeholders in so we can listen to the industries that could be benefitted — and there are many in this regard.”

Project proponents argue a high-speed rail line in the region could facilitate billions of dollars in economic activity and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the corridor. The rail line would, in effect, shrink the distances between the region’s major cities, turning a more than 3-hour drive into an hour’s ride.

The route’s alignment and stop locations are yet to be determined. However, the state supplemental transportation budget that funded the additional study called for an analysis of building stations in several Washington cities, including Vancouver.

Horgan said his government became interested in contributing to the rail project after learning about the collaborative work being done between Oregon and Washington. Connecting to the region’s two other major cities, he said, is “in the interests of our economy, the interests of our people and, critically important, in the interest of climate change.”

During Friday’s news conference, Inslee also spoke in support of British Columbia’s skepticism over the Canadian federal government’s consideration to expand Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Inslee described the pipeline and the subsequent tanker traffic as a potential threat to the region’s coastal waters and the interests of Washington’s citizens. He added that Washington is evaluating stronger marine safety laws to mitigate the damage done by a tanker spill.

“We recognize in Washington state our long-term future is going to have to involve cleaner energy … and we are making decisions on our side of the border that is consistent with that vision,” Inslee said, citing the state’s decision to reject the Vancouver Energy oil terminal and “a coal export terminal on the Columbia River.”

Columbian staff writer