This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
It is possible to have passenger trains and pedestrians both use the corridor at a much lower cost, said Bruce Agnew, the director of the Cascadia Center at Discovery Institute, which just commissioned a study that found it would be possible to modernize the 42 miles of track to accommodate small diesel commuter trains for $37 million.
“We need to look very closely and not make hasty decisions, like ripping out 31 miles of perfectly usable track,” Agnew said.
$37M is just the cost of upgrading all the track. You might ask Mr. Agnew why, if the track is “perfectly usable,” it will cost $37M to “modernize” it. And indeed, if you read the Cascadia Center’s report, it advocates “ripping out” nearly all of the track and replacing it:
Costs were preliminarily estimated by Fay as follows: tie and rail replacement, $33.6 million ($800,000 per mile X 42 miles); bridge replacement, $3.42 million(1,140 feet of bridge at $3,000 per foot). Other costs are yet to be determined, including stations; equipment plus storage and repair facilities; project EIS and engineering.
The PSRC estimates it will cost $300M to do a proper rail line, including stations and, you know, actual trains. That’s the number the P-I should be using.