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Gov. Gregoire unveils $590 million grant to Washington for high speed intercity passenger rail

For Immediate Release: January 28, 2010

OLYMPIA – In tandem with the announcement by President Barack Obama today of the award of $8 billion to 31 states for high speed intercity passenger rail service, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced that Washington will receive $590 million for projects that add jobs and increase passenger rail service along the Interstate 5 corridor.

“These funds will offer great returns: We will put people to work and improve a transit service on which more and more Washingtonians rely,” Gregoire said. “Thanks to these investments, we will move more people, move them more efficiently and move them more reliably.”

Yesterday Gregoire received a phone call from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to inform her of Washington’s award.

The Washington State Department of Transportation applied for funding to build 26 rail projects along the Pacific Northwest rail. In addition to the application, work from Washington’s congressional delegation, especially U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Congressmen Rick Larsen and Jay Inslee, to build support for rail corridors such as Washington’s was instrumental in the success of WSDOT’s application. With this funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, rail line capacity will be boosted and congestion relieved, and public safety will be improved. More frequent Amtrak “Cascades” rail service between Portland and Seattle will be made possible.

“The grant announcement is great news. With these investments, we will greatly improve our on-time reliability and travel choice for passengers between Seattle and Portland,” said WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond. “Our team is ready to get to work building these projects that will have real economic benefits by supporting and creating jobs, reducing rail line congestion, improving access to our ports and upgrading railroad crossings.”

Washington will apply for more federal funding for the rail program this year from the $2.5 billion set aside for high speed rail in the federal transportation appropriations bill approved in December 2009.

Nearly $1 billion in capital and operating funds has been invested in high speed intercity passenger rail in the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor since 1994. Washington state alone has invested more than $331 million in support of high speed passenger rail.