Washington state is in line for an additional $161 million for high-speed rail projects, on top of $590 million announced earlier this year.
If the Midwest doesn’t want a billion bucks, we’ll take it. At least, we’ll take part of it.
That’s the word from Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond with the Thursday announcement that the state is in line for an additional $161 million for high-speed-rail projects, on top of $590 million announced earlier this year.
The federal stimulus money will go toward a collection of two dozen projects, estimated at $1.3 billion, aimed at speeding rail travel along the Interstate 5 corridor from Oregon to the Canadian border.
The additional dollars came Washington’s way because proposed rail projects in Ohio and Wisconsin were opposed by incoming Republican governors.
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Those governors instead favored using the money on road and highway projects, but federal officials said Congress specifically authorized the money for rail-related work.
Together, Ohio and Wisconsin would have received $1.2 billion of the $8 billion allocated nationwide.
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that money will now be split by a dozen other states, with the largest shares going to California ($624 million), Florida ($342 million) and Washington.
Other states to get some of the reallocated funds are Oregon, Illinois, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Iowa and Indiana.
The specific projects to be funded in Washington will be worked out between state officials and the Federal Railroad Administration. Proposed projects include ones to install new or rerouted tracks in several areas, and move passenger trains off lines used by freight trains, which curtail their speed.
Hammond said the new projects also would be an important source of jobs in Washington.
The stimulus money is aimed at corridors of 100 to 600 miles, where trains could run fast enough to be a viable substitute for air or car travel.
In the Cascades corridor from Blaine to Eugene, the long-term goal is rail travel at speeds in the 90 mph to 120 mph range, according to the administration’s national rail plan.
At present, rail speeds in Washington state are limited to 79 mph due to congestion, road crossings, flaws in the track and other factors.
Material from The Associated Press and Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or email@example.com.