GeekWire reports Microsoft has donated a total of $573,667 to a study assessing the feasibility of high-speed rail between Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, and Portland. This is part of the company’s effort to connect major cities in this region so it can be developed into a technology innovation center, much like Silicon Valley. The Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the Washington Department of Transportation are also contributing to the project.
Speaking at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Seattle, Microsoft president Brad Smith said “We found the fourth part of the funding needed to get this feasibility study done. I actually found it at Microsoft. I didn’t have to look very far.”
The high-speed rail feasibility study has been under way since 2017, and has received substantial funding. The promoters of the line hope high-speed rail service can move passengers between Vancouver and Seattle in under an hour. Now that additional funding is in hand, the project leaders believe they can complete the study by December 31, 2020.
If completed, the new service would run trains at 200+ mph. The Washington DOT said the line may be built using traditional high-speed rail, magnetic levitation, or hyper loop technology. The agency also says the system, in the first 40 years of operation, would eliminate 6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The Washington DOT adds the line would generate $355 billion in economic growth, the cost of the project will be somewhere between $24 billion and $42 billion, and bring in somewhere between $160 million and $250 million per year.
Microsoft president Smith said “Everywhere you go in the world people are thinking big and the fundamental question we should always ask ourselves is, ‘why not us?’” The people who built this region thought big. Are we really following in their footsteps without the capacity to dream big dreams and make them come true?”
For another story on high-speed rail in the U.S., click here.
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