Yesterday, WSDOT announced that it has officially applied for $120 million of the $2.4B high-speed rail funds rejected by Florida back in February. The money would be used to improve the Cascade corridor, including environmental and engineering work for much-needed slope stabilization. Combined with the money WSDOT has already been awarded – $590 million in original stimulus funds and $161 million rejected by Wisconsin and Ohio – the total funding package could top $870 million.
According to WSDOT, the funding has different criteria which effectively reduces the amount the state can apply for:
The Florida-related funding has more stringent “readiness” requirements, narrowing the list of p1rojects eligible for consideration. Projects in WSDOT’s application are primarily for environmental and engineering work to stabilize hillsides, add capacity to reduce conflicts with freight, and replace an aging trestle. All projects funded by the ARRA rail grants must be completed by September 2017.
Assuming the Republican-controlled House fails to cancel Obama’s HSR program, these dollars will be a welcome addition to improving the Cascades, which is already one of Amtrak’s more popular corridors.