Lacey, WA– This week in The News Tribune, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) called on the Washington State Legislature to fund ultra high speed rail to better connect the South Sound to other destinations along the I-5 corridor from Portland, OR to Vancouver B.C., significantly reducing both travel time and demand on our highways and local transit systems.
“With momentum increasing for high-speed rail, now is the time to help our region address pressing challenges and promote economic prosperity for all — up and down the Sound,” said Strickland. “I encourage the Legislature to fund the next phase of work on this project and provide the necessary state match so we can take advantage of federal funding this year.”
Read the full op-ed below.
The South Sound is a dynamic part of our globally connected region that deserves a fast connection to other major jobs centers up and down the Interstate 5 corridor. Imagine getting on a high-speed train in Tacoma and being in Portland in less than an hour at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. That is a welcome alternative to spending hours stuck in I-5 traffic, making day trips to Portland possible again.
Working closely with my colleagues in Congress, including Senator Maria Cantwell, Representatives Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Suzan DelBene and Chairman Peter DeFazio, I helped ensure the federal government stepped up and funded passenger rail.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contains $66 billion for passenger rail, including $12 billion for intercity passenger rail projects like the Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation Project. We have a generational opportunity to secure a share of this federal funding for the Pacific Northwest.
During this Washington State legislative session, I encourage state lawmakers to prioritize a significant investment in the Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation Project. There is an opportunity to apply for federal funds to truly launch this project and move beyond a concept into community engagement and development.
If we’re not ready, those dollars will go elsewhere
And we’ll miss out on as much as 80 percent federal funding for the project.
Building upon local transit options, high speed rail would advance our ability to move people more efficiently over longer distances — whether that’s for work or to see family or friends. It is an important complement to our critical local transit systems. In the South Sound, we need both local transit and high-speed rail to meet existing and future demands for our community, and to support long-term economic development.
For those of us that have lived in the South Sound for a year, 10 or even 20 years, we know that the South Sound is one of the best — and most beautiful — places to live in the United States. With Pierce County alone adding 126,000 neighbors over the past ten years, and an anticipated additional 364,000 new neighbors in the South Sound over the next 30, we know we need to plan and invest smartly in how we move people and goods. That’s why I fought hard for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and its extraordinary investments in transit and rail.
Our Cascadia megaregion is one of eleven in the United States. We can replicate the success that the Northeast megaregion —extending from Maine to Virginia — has found in its high-speed rail service, and better connect our metropolitan areas. For the South Sound, that’s better connecting Tacoma-Lakewood to Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater. And while this kind of investment will greatly increase access to the South Sound, it will also expand geographic equity for workers. We must encourage employers to think beyond King County when it comes to placing high-wage jobs and use this funding to make the South Sound an employment hub.
With momentum increasing in the federal government for high-speed rail, now is the time to help our region address pressing challenges and promote economic prosperity for all — up and down the Sound. I encourage the Legislature to fund the next phase of work on this project and provide the necessary state match so we can take advantage of federal funding this year. I’m joined in making this request by a coalition of more than 40 business, labor, and community organizations and other elected officials who have also encouraged the state Legislature to act. Like me, these organizations and leaders see the potential of high-speed transportation to create incredible opportunities for future generations.
Let’s fund high-speed rail in this legislative session so the dream of Tacoma to Portland in less than an hour becomes our reality.
U.S. Representative Marilyn Strickland serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is the only African-American woman who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. She is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, is one of the first Korean-American women elected to Congress and is the first African-American elected to represent the Pacific Northwest at the federal level.