While the legislature continues to shoot down R8A, I did some investigation in regards to the Amtrak rail funding and its dramatic change mentioned here previous. It appears that 98% of the rail capital project funding has been completely eliminated. The remaining 2% is going to very, very small projects, such as Tacoma Rail engine facility improvements, a new connection for BNSF/Tacoma Rail in Roy, and a spur to a cement plant in Everett. Yippe…
Stanwood Station however did keep its funding and Amtrak Cascades will serve the station when it opens this Fall. I have heard that the funding for Leavenworth Station has been eliminated but I have not found anything that confirms this officially.
24 NEW SECTION. Sec. 225. FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION–
25 RAIL–PROGRAM Y–OPERATING
26 Multimodal Transportation Account–State
27 Appropriation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$34,933,000
28 The appropriation in this section is subject to the following
29 conditions and limitations:
30 (1) $29,091,000 of the multimodal transportation account–state
31 appropriation is provided solely for the Amtrak service contract and
32 Talgo maintenance contract associated with providing and maintaining
33 the state-supported passenger rail service. Upon completion of the
34 rail platform project in the city of Stanwood, the department shall
35 provide daily Amtrak Cascades service to the city.
36 (2) Amtrak Cascade runs may not be eliminated.
p. 27 SSB 5352.
1 (3) The department shall begin planning for a third roundtrip
2 Cascades train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. by 2010
While the state will “aggressively” seek federal funding from various stimulus sources, the damage and lack of credibility has been done. What the state has effectively done is damage any chance of securing funding because all projects require matching funding from the state. With the state effectively killing this funding, this no longer gives the state the chance to receive any stimulus funding.
While I understand the need and reasoning for reducing the budget, a lot more critical things were cut. I am still at a lost however how I-405 manages to get a several million dollar increase in funding, along with the I-5 Pierce County HOV lanes while rail and other projects are being cut.
We talk about alternatives and ways to reduce GHG but when it comes to making progress on doing that goal, a few select people make sure that it does not happen. In this situation, we, the people of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia all want alternatives to driving. We all want an alternative to flying. The Amtrak Cascades service and passenger rail are our ways to that goal. Until we have people in our government that also see that goal, we will never go beyond what we have currently for many more years.
We all know by 2012, gas prices will be at record levels. By 2012, we could have had a very good and integrated transportation system, ranging from buses, carpool, light-rail, and passenger rail. Each mode works together but people will not make the critical change needed until the services are provided. The Cascades program will be very critical and by not investing now, we will lose any forward movement at such a critical time.
Nearly every state is looking forward to adding more passenger rail, except for our region, where roads are now king of our society.