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Secretary Ray LaHood on The Daily Show

This is a lighthearted interview about some of the priorities that LaHood and the administration are pushing. While he has many priorities one that seams particularly close to his heart has been to improve the safety of all road users by starting to make sure that the public is aware of the significant risks posed by drivers using cell phone to talk or text message. A few months ago he held a Distracted Driving summit in DC to highlight these issues and get the ball rolling on addressing the problem. Locally the Driven to Distraction Task Force, which from what I can tell is pretty new, is starting to organize and tackle these problems as well. They created the video below.

Driven to Distraction Via Seattle Likes Bikes

20 Replies to “Videos: Secretary Ray LaHood & Driven to Distraction”

  1. Sec. LaHood tipped his hand, when asked the question about where the HSR hubs would be.
    Without hesitation, he ticked off the Midwest, California, the South, and fix up the NE corridor some. No mention of the Cascade Corridor, or any of the others. While I don’t think he gave the complete list, it doesn’t bode well for WA or OR.
    A large scale letter writing campaign to our congessional delegation is underway, and especially Sen. Murray.
    I don’t think we want a repeat of the ferry funding situation that occurred last year.
    Any help is appreciated. Thanks in Advance.

    1. We need some local politicians supporting HSR first. A bunch of Oregon officials got together to form a group pushing for HSR, and could not find any Washington elected officials interested. It’s no wonder the administration thinks Washington State isn’t interested. Officially, it is not.

      On that topic, is anyone aware of any plans or maps on how HSR might get through WA State? especially how it would find its way through Seattle?

      1. The closest thing to a HSR plan we have is the long-range plan to improve Cascades to 110 MPH operation in some sections.

        The bad news for at least some HSR fans is this is not “true” HSR. On the other hand it has the advantage of having the “big-picture” part of the plan past environmental review and many individual projects have various degrees of planning completed, up to and including some that are fully “shovel ready”. Furthermore the market is proven, the ridership is proven, the equipment proven and FRA approved, and it is affordable compared to 200+ MPH service. The current long-range plan mostly uses existing rail ROW except for a few sections.

        Cascades service already draws passengers away from the airlines and driving in the Vancouver to Eugene corridor. With the full long-range plan built out Seattle to Portland travel times will be shorter than driving and quite time-competitive with flying especially when you factor in all of the extra time you spend getting to the airport, checking in, and getting through security.

      2. Don’t forget the 30 seconds to go up or down each elevator. ;)

        Who is shepherding this higher-speed rail project for WA State? Are there any electeds we know of on board?

      3. There isn’t anyone – but the PAC I’ve started ( will work to address that.

      4. @Ben

        It seems to me like the name should be changed to something like Cascades transit PAC and it needs to look into all the major Cities not just (Portland and Seattle) All the cities along the route have some sort of transit agency. Though I some of the transit agency could use some improvements in connectivity between Amtrak and the local bus service. I know this as I use to live in Salem and occasionally take Amtrak down to Salem from Seattle.

      5. Ben, how can you have a PAC website with no link to donate (not saying I can right now or not, just pointing out a feature that is lacking.. ;))?!?!

      6. Well stated Chris. Sometimes the speedometer reading isn’t the best gauge for going fast. Getting to your destination sooner is. Our corridor trains are all too often late due to conflictions with slower freights and know choke points along the line. Most of the improvements WA is asking for address these issues first.

      7. I am having a hard time understanding WHY we aren’t on the short list when it comes to service. The South? Really? I wonder how many round trips a day those routes have? Or if they already have plans drawn up to actually achieve H(er)SR, as the Cascadia Corridor does.

        It seems we would have the perfect combination of existing demand and shovel ready projects, but we aren’t aren’t on the list. Why?

        Some have offered lack of state support as a reason, but that just shifts the question… why? Considering the commitments to service improvements WSDOT has made, it seems to me that this is just free money. What politician doesn’t try to grab free money and jobs for his constituents?!?!

        I’m really confused.

      8. We are on the list, … somewhere??
        It’s mostly due to the other corridors having very strong local leadership, being vocal about their plans – something that has been really lacking in the NW. Our Gov and WSDOT have been supportive, but nothing compared to the Midwest states, and FL just had a special session devoted to HSR. Try getting Olympia to do that!
        Congressman Rick Larson spoke with Sec LaHood last friday about our corridor (Thanks Rick), and Sen. Murray is working the issue hard, according to staff. She’s got a lot of clout, so I’m not ready to wring my hands.
        We’ll know soon enough if we get a bone or a hind-quarter.

      9. Yea, Sen. Murray has a lot of clout. Something about being chair of the Transportation Subcommittee of Appropriations. Also being #4 in the caucus leadership doesn’t hurt.

        Still it wouldn’t hurt to have some State-level people squawking about the Cascades corridor a bit more loudly.

      10. I’d like to see HSR to California and Chicago. But cleaning up the Cascades bottlenecks and adding more trains is good enough for now. A good Cascades network (including eastern Washington lines) would make it as convenient to get around the northwest as the S-Bahn in Germany. Longer term, maybe we can take a couple freeway lanes for HSR.

      11. In the long run there’s no other place to find the right of way to construct track to support 200mph+ speeds. There will no doubt be a need to leave the interstate to construct stations, but between cities the interstate is the way to go.

      12. Eventually with the rising price of gas, cars will be fewer and the highway capacity won’t be needed. Then the interstates can become a multimodal right of way, around the same time that park n rides can be converted to transit-oriented development.

  2. I-5 isn’t straight enough for any type of sustained HS running.

    The delays will continue to build as traffic starts up again and BNSF is planning a large tie project next month lasting until March. The Cascades will be hit fairly hard.

  3. Washington State submitted a strong, comprehensive high speed rail application which met all the requirements of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Of the 25 projects that we submitted for funding grants, 11 are shovel-ready. The impact of these projects will be felt quickly with improved reliability (better on-time performance), shorter journey times and more trains. We have completed all of the NEPA documentation as required by the FRA. Washington State has a solid history of 15 years of development of our federal designated corridor and investment of nearly $1 billion in capital and operating funds. The continued success of our Amtrak Cascades high speed intercity passenger rail service is a direct result of this investment, and our thorough and comprehensive planning will pave the future for our region. We are confident in the strength of our application and that Washington State will stand out among the top contenders. For more information on our ARRA application, visit our Web site at:

  4. The concerns of All Aboard Washington(AAWA is WA’s intercity passenger rail advocacy organization) for months have been that political and big media clout will trump merit when ARRA HSR grants are made. As Scott Witt described, WA is at the top of the “merit” list, but as others noted above, other states’ elected officials are now pushing DC for HSR $ for their, often dreams-only,intercity passenger rail programs.

    I believe our state officials,who have for 20 years made state investments into our modest but successful Amtrak Cascades, might have assumed “merit” would win for us, and thus have not,as “less worthy” jurisdictions have, actively lobbied DC on this issue. Based on those investments, it’s not quite fair to assume our state officials are not interested in HSR dollars and further seccesses.

    AAWA will,and all others who want WA to get our well-earned share of the AAWA HSR should, contact in-state and WA’s DC electeds and reiterate our “merit” case and urge said electeds to politely remind Lahood (who is, nonetheless, the best USDOT boss for rail, ever) of WA’s top qualifications.

    Three of us from AAWA went to DC a couple of months ago and met personally with most of the WA delegation for the exact purpose of lobbying for a good WA share of HSR $. They all showed strong support.

    But continued affirmative contacts from constituents, including the generally well-informed readers of this bolg, need to NOW put thoughts into actions. Contact our electeds!

    Lloyd H Flem, Executive Director. AAWA

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