My View: Portland to Seattle in one hour? Why not?
After a recent transportation poll was completed by FM3 Research, Andy Shaw, Metro's regional affairs director stated that "people are hungry for systematic improvements that make the system better for everyone."
The poll also concluded that Portland-area voters believe the region is headed in the wrong direction. For example, the current proposed I-5 corridor projects will waste billions of dollars on short-term cosmetic changes that do not address long commute times and rapid population growth such as:
• $500 million to widen I-5 lanes at the Rose Quarter, which will not add travel lanes
• $3 billion to $4 billion on a new attempt to replace the I-5 bridges
• $2.9 billion to put MAX on Barbur Boulevard, taking 30 minutes from PSU to Bridgeport
• $1 billion to $5 billion to improve Amtrak's average speed in Oregon from 42 mph to 48 mph on UP freight tracks.
Costly transportation projects in the I-5 corridor must consider the opportunity for private/public investment in a faster and more reliable high-speed rail alternative that eventually connects towns from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C. When proper technical and funding comparisons are made between a fast, electrified rail corridor to population centers versus all other alternatives, there is no comparison.
Cascadia High Speed Rail, LLC has spent 12 years designing and analyzing the feasibility of an exclusive double-track rail corridor using the adjacent publicly owned I-5 rights of way in Oregon as the best route for 200-mph electrified bullet trains. In 2016 the Cascadia High Speed Rail corridor was registered with the Federal Rail Administration's Fast Program.
Washington and British Columbia recently contracted the WSP Company to complete a $1.2 million ultra-high-speed transit study between Portland and Vancouver, B.C. Washington's legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee are working on forming a bi-state rail authority to implement an exclusive high speed rail corridor to improve collaboration between Cascadia High Speed Rail's proposed double-track corridor is planned to support three train systems:
• Cascadia Inter City Express is designed to move people between the Rose Quarter and Seattle in one hour.
• Cascadia Commuter Express could connect the Rose Quarter and Bridgeport/Tualatin in 10 minutes, moving 16,000 people each hour.
• Cascadia High Speed Rail can also move parcel freight in record time.
The first phase of this corridor could be a new six-minute commuter connection from the Rose Quarter to Vancouver, Washington. It would include a new multi-modal bridge for rail and vehicles over the Columbia River, west of the BNSF Railroad Bridge, to Northwest 78th and I-5 in Vancouver.
It should be the first phase of a needed 28-mile Cascadia Commuter Express corridor between Wilsonville and Vancouver. Why not the goal of 28 rail express miles by 2028?
In Portland, there are 33.5 acres of publicly-owned property in the Rose Quarter area that does not generate property tax revenue. As the center for MAX and bus connections, near the crossroads of I-5/I-84, it is the logical location for a Cascadia High Speed Rail station, which would solidify the Rose Quarter as the transportation hub and development anchor on the east bank of the Willamette River. A citizens involvement committee, approved by the city council, is needed to help plan a better street pattern to make developable blocks for dense mixed-use projects. Private development on newly created taxable blocks causes a prolonged revenue stream to help pay for new infrastructure.
Fast and reliable trains, connected to transportation hubs, naturally influence developer competition for nearby property. Town centers, with mixed use and affordable housing, are then created with less need for government subsidies to stimulate development. Trails and rails connected to communities will vary the cost of living, travel time and convenience in towns between Eugene and British Columbia.
Oregonians are now at a crossroad whether or not to support innovative ways to develop town centers and needed carbon-reducing transportation corridors between British Columbia and California. It would be a paradigm shift from an auto-dependent land use system to a more equitable transit/bike/pedestrian-oriented lifestyle. Gov. Kate Brown needs your voice in support of this new Cascadia High Speed Rail economic growth corridor.
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