PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Democrats are pushing for a bullet train that would better link cities in the Cascadia “economic megaregion,” including Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C.
In a letter signed on Tuesday, all 10 of Washington’s Democratic Congress members urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to back the Cascadia High-Speed Rail project that could have construction costs of up to $42 billion.
However, project leaders report that the high-speed rail would generate $355 billion in economic growth.
According to the representatives, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver currently have a combined population of 9 million residents — and are projected to have another 3 to 4 million by 2050. The legislators claim that new infrastructure, such as the proposed train, would help manage the expected growth.
Researchers predict that the bullet train would allow Portlanders to travel to Seattle in less than one hour, and then to Vancouver for a total of two hours.
“A key component of our vision is a fast, frequent, reliable, and environmentally responsible transportation system that unites this Cascadia megaregion,” the letter reads. “In addition to travel up to 250 mph, a High-Speed Rail system also leads to better access to jobs, affordable housing, climate initiatives, shared resources, enhanced productivity, increased tourism, and economic growth.”
According to the Cascadia project, the high-speed rail system would also cut carbon emissions by 6 million electric tons and reduce road traffic by 40%.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Transportation, and British Columbia officials have all contributed to the planning process thus far.
Back in 2022, the Washington State Legislature distributed $4 million toward advancing the project and an additional $150 million in hopes that federal officials would match the funds.
The project’s latest status report was submitted in late June, but WSDOT and other state representatives said they are waiting for federal agencies to approve additional funding before progressing.