WSDOT, ODOT, British Columbia and Microsoft chip in to study high-speed transportation between Vancouver and Portland

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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A $1.5 billion ultra-high-speed ground transportation business study is underway evaluating options to connect Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore.

“We developed a vision for a better connected Cascadia mega region that will help our talented entrepreneurs, researchers and workers share knowledge and expand economic opportunity. The possibilities created by connecting our three largest cities via a high-speed transportation options are really exciting,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The funding of the study received a boost on July 26 when the province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Microsoft Corp. committed a combined $750,00 to the in-depth study. The financing matches the $750,000 the Washington state legislature provided the Washington State Department of Transportation for the study earlier this year.

“High-speed rail would cut travel times between Vancouver and Seattle and bring huge benefits to British Columbia,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan. “We’re excited about this next step and look forward to the findings of Washington’s in-depth study.”

Officials said the study, which will be conducted by WSP, will build on a 2017 preliminary analysis, which looked at a possible high-speed rail, hyperloop and maglev connection between the cities. WSDOT explains that the need for the study grew out of ongoing Cascadia Innovation Corridor planning efforts. This cross-border coalition brings together business, academic and government leaders to build a global hub of innovation and commerce in the Pacific Northwest.

A new advisory committee, representing both public and private sectors from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, will provide input during the year-long technical analysis. The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for late July with the study scheduled for completion by July 2019.

“We are excited to see regional leaders invest in the continued pursuit of a high-speed rail that will help grow economic opportunities in the Cascadia Innovation Corridor,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Shrinking the distance between Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland will encourage greater collaboration, deeper economic ties and balanced growth for years to come.”

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