The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is envisioning a 250-mph “ultra-high speed ground transportation system” connecting Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, Wash. and Portland, Ore., with Seattle-Vancouver and Seattle-Portland travel times reduced to one hour each. Engineering and professional services consultancy WSP will be preparing a business case analysis for what WSDOT describes as “an international, public-private partnership of WSDOT; the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT); the British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology; and Microsoft Corp.”
The study is expected to be completed in mid-2019. “A preliminary analysis conducted in 2017 confirmed the need for a more in-depth analysis of the system’s feasibility, and the Washington State Legislature has appropriated funds to the study, with additional monies coming from the study’s other partners,” WSP said.
WSP is charged with identifying potential ultra-high-speed ground transportation corridors through the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland region. The firm is also responsible for refining cost estimates, estimating potential ridership, and analyzing previous U.S. and international infrastructure and high-speed rail projects “for problem-solving solutions and lessons learned.”
The goal is to build a “global hub of innovation and commerce in the Pacific Northwest.”
The Washington State Legislature allocated $750,000 for the study earlier this year. ODOT, the British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology and Microsoft will match that funding Thursday, bringing the total to $1.5 million. ODOT contributed $200,000, Microsoft $300,000, and the Province of British Columbia $300,000, in Canadian dollars.
“This project is an exciting opportunity to improve communities, grow the economy and open doors for people and businesses to prosper across an entire region in a sustainable, future-focused way,” said Karen Hedlund, WSP’s project manager. “Imagine the impact of a large company in Seattle able to access a workforce in Vancouver that is only an hour away, or a person able to live in a rural community outside of Portland, but commute daily to Seattle.”
WSP is currently part of the project teams for similar HSR projects in Texas, California and internationally. The firm is working with the California High-Speed Rail Authority for a statewide high-speed rail system, and is providing engineering support for the Texas Bullet Train between Houston and Dallas.