Washington state is raking in the train money. WSDOT announced
this morning that it’s getting $15 million that Florida gave up.
That brings the state total to $781 million in American
Reinvestment and Recovery Act high-speed-rail funding, or stimulus
The press release claims that a nationwide high-speed-train
network will connect 80 percent of Americans in 25 years.
The way traffic is, even heading south on I-5 where you used to
feel like you were out in the sticks, and if gas prices keep
climbing, a lot more people might start riding trains. I’ve always
thought of them as more of a touristy thing, something that added
to the experience of going down to Portland to play. But if they
add more trips, and cut some time off of them, it could become a
smart way to go based purely on transportation.
There are some trains in China and Europe that rocket to speeds
of hundreds of miles per hour. The Seattle-Portland train tops out
at 79 mph, said WSDOT spokeswoman Melanie Coon. That’s not the
problem, though. The problem is clearing the way for them to run at
79 mph for more extended periods.
Washington will add two daily round trips between Seattle and
Portland, for a total of six. The most recent $15 million will go
toward eliminating a chokepoint near Vancouver where passenger and
freight trains have to share the track.
All of the projects funded by the stimulus money must be
completed by September 2017.
The state Transportation Commission, responsible for setting
tolls and fares and naming ferries and bridges, filled the second
of two recent openings. Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed Anne
Haley to the group, effective immediately.
Haley is a Tacoma native, former Yakima resident and lives
in Walla Walla. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound
and University of Washington. She worked as a librarian for many
years, including 20 years as library director in Walla Walla and
five years as the director of the Yakima Valley Regional Library.
Haley has served as chair of the Washington State Library
Commission, president of the Washington Library Association and
president of the Northwest Library Association. She chairs the
board of directors for Brown & Haley in Tacoma.
“Through my professional work in library management across the
northwest, my experience overseeing a Tacoma-based family business
that ships its product worldwide, and the very different challenges
and needs my husband and I have in shipping wheat to market from
the family ranch, I know first-hand the importance and diversity of
Washington’s transportation system,” she said. “Transportation is
fundamental to our state’s economic competitiveness, to the safe
and timely movement of goods and people, and to the responsible
utilization of resources, such as time, air quality and fuel.”
Haley replaces Elmira Forner of Chelan on the seven-person
commission. She represents eastern Washington. Earlier this year,
Tom Cowan replaced Bob Distler. Both are from the San Juan
The Transportation Commission is an independent body made up of
seven members appointed by the Governor, representing various
regions of the state. The commission provides a public forum for
transportation policy development, assesses how the entire
transportation system works across the state, and provides policy
and fiscal guidance to the Governor and State Legislature. The
commission also develops the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan
and serves as the state tolling authority, setting tolls for state
highways and bridges and fares for Washington State Ferries.