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Deal sealed on train money for Washington

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 26, 2011 at 11:45 am with 21 Comments »
February 26, 2011 11:46 am

We knew a while ago that Washington was due to get stimulus money for high speed rail, but the Gregoire administration warned that money was threatened by U.S. House Republicans’ budget proposal.

Now the money appears to be secure with the announcement today from Sen. Patty Murray’s office that a contract has been signed on the $590 million in stimulus funds. 

Murray said in a news release the agreement was reached Friday night between the Federal Rail Administration, the state Department of Transportation and BNSF railways, which operates large parts of the track between the Canadian border and Portland. Projects will start soon along that line, Murray said.

Now that the $590 million has been contractually obligated, officials will try to do the same with $161 million in stimulus money redistributed to Washington after Wisconsin and Ohio’s new GOP governors turned it down.

Read full news release:

Senator Murray Announces Final Agreement on Major Rail Improvements for Washington State

Job-creating work to speed rail travel, improve freight lines along the Cascade line now slated to move forward

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, announced that a final agreement to invest $590 million in much needed rail improvements in Washington state had been reached between the federal government, Washington state, and BNSF railways. With this agreement, the job-creating rail projects which Senator Murray supported as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will soon begin along crucial sections of the Cascade rail line that runs from Blaine to Portland. 

“At a time when good paying construction jobs are not easy to find, this is welcome news for our state,” said Senator Murray. “This agreement means that we can now get moving on a number of job-creating projects that will get freight and Amtrak trains moving more quickly along the I-5 corridor. And as all of us who have sat in traffic on I-5 know, we need to find better ways to move commuters and goods throughout our state. While this agreement may have been a long time in the making for many of us, the fact is it’s here and it’s time to get workers on the job.”

The agreement, which was signed late last night, is between the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), the Washington State Department of Transportation, and BNSF Railways which operates much of the track along the Cascade corridor. The agreement means that the $590 million in federal funding will now be obligated to the state of Washington to be allocated for several different projects along the rail line.

Recent statistics show that only two-thirds of passenger trains run on time on the 3 ½-hour trip between Seattle and Portland. The state of Washington has estimated that the investments would help eliminate 833 hours of delays annually, according to the state.

The funding obligated today does not include $161 million in rail funding redistributed to Washington in October 2010.

For additional information on Washington state’s vision for these rail investments visit: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/funding/stimulus/passengerrail.htm

Leave a comment Comments → 21
  1. I think the Washington taxpayers are in for a shock when they find out much this free money is going to cost them!Wait until they get the rest of the story.

  2. You got that right…the taxpayers of WA state are going to pay big time. There are reasons that responsible governments are turning down these handouts!!!

  3. nvanputten says:

    Actually, as part of the Stimulus program, this won’t cost WA voters any more than the same Federal Income Tax applied to everyone. The reason that Republican governors are turning the money down is to make political points about how they oppose the Federal Bill. While we could debate the merits of the stimulus, those debates have no impact on the distribution of the money.

  4. Actually, it will cost us plenty because no one will use it. What sense does it make to build something no one uses? Light-rail is going to cost us all plenty because like Amtrak it will have to be subsidized by “tax dollars” and will never ever be able to sustain itself. You want to talk political points nvanputten, how about all the union job requirements that come with these million dollar boondoggle projects. Money to the unions means money from the unions to the democrats that always champion these ridiculous ideas come election time. Let the markets decide what mode of transportation is best for the WA citizens. Amtrak needs to go away, BNSF should use their own money to fix their tracks.

  5. Yes, it’s a shame that WI and OH taxpayers have been cheated by their governors, but the money will still be put to good use here, in CA, and elsewhere.

  6. rsegura: I assume you mean the “markets” that decided to subsidize interstate highways? You know, those highways you undoubtedly use frequently, if not personally at least to get groceries to your local stores cheaply (for just one example), that are subsidized by taxpayers and built and maintained by skilled and efficient union laborers?

    Oh, and no doubt you understand the distinction between light rail and heavy (high speed, high capacity) rail?

  7. truthbusterguy says:

    Yes, lets get in bed with Obama and rack up debt to build a train that no one will ride. Endruslt is we take private property and go in debt to build a RR, that no one will ride for the sake of short term job creation.

    This is another example of government boondoggles that only cost us for years and no long term benifit. You must ask why these other guvs said no thanks.

  8. High speed and high capacity rail, now that is funny. How many people you know personally that use it. Don’t worry I’ll wait. Here’s a news flash for you. Our roads are in disrepair and yes tax money is used to “maintain” these roads. However, our roads can be better taken care of when out government stops all the ridiculous requirements like prevailing wage etc. Most road repair jobs are farmed out anyways to contractors that gladly take their time finishing the job. One digs and four or more supervise. You have seen it yourself or maybe its you digging…
    Unions were good at one time in America but no more. They have bilked taxpayers for generations and most of America is tired of it. Democrat politicians and labor unions are a burden to us all.
    There is no difference when taxpayers don’t get their moneys worth.
    Zaqar, people actually use highways pal. In fact I will be using one very soon. Amtrak is a failed business and should just go away. BNSF has plenty of money to do what they need to do. Interstate highway system was something the nation as a whole needed to prosper and made sense. So your pathetic attempt to make sense of this boondoggle failed big time. Sooner or later you run out of taxpayer money.

  9. mattersnot1 says:

    You mean those roads full of pot holes big enough for your car to disappear in are built and maintained by skilled and efficient union laborers?

  10. rsegura: Don’t want to admit your ignorance, eh? High speed and high capacity rail isn’t light rail; it’s sometimes known as heavy rail. As for the nobody that rides it, you don’t have to look far (Oct. 10, 2010 TNT article at http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/10/19/1387700/all-aboard-amtrak-ridership-increases.html) to see that nobody is nearly 1 million strong in 2010, and growing apace.

    Of course, you, just like the other corporate patsies commenting online here, apparently on the strength of your appalling ignorance and borderline ability to parrot the words and opinions of paid corporate lackeys mouthing disinformation on television and radio shows, have no respect for truth or facts–so what’s the point of discussing anything with you, eh?

    mattersnot1 and truthbusterguy: Your words are blatant piffle.

  11. SuperSteve says:

    The idea that no one will use high-speed rail is simply false – Amtrak is running at capacity in the Cascade Corridor already, and improvements in speed, reliability and capacity will only help.

    As for subsidies, every form of transportation is highly subsidized. Airlines have federal dollars for the FAA and local/state taxes paying for the airports. Roads, of course, are 100% paid for with taxes – completely subsidized, even before you count the fact the we pay an artificially low price for gas in the US compared with any other industrialized nation.

  12. I’m well aware of the differences. Just like a liberal with a weak ass argument you parse words and start calling names. Everyone is dumb except you and your comrades. Anyways, where there is no difference is that tax money will be foolishly spent on this and other liberal causes by an out of control and out of touch federal government.
    As for Amtrak, I don’t care if there are 10 million riders, its obvious that still isn’t enough to remain a viable business. Donate your own money to your liberal causes pal.
    And by the way, your screen name is a dead giveaway on just how pious you are.

  13. rsegura – I’m curious how you think the economy would operate if everyone worked for minimum wage? Do you really think it makes sense to drive everyones wages down? Taking care of the middle class is something both sides should be working on – not defending corporate interests at all cost.

    We have a crumbling infrastructure in this country and it’s not going to get any better by ignoring the fact that road & rail projects take money – tax money. The right wingers & tea baggers want you to believe that all taxes are bad, and we shouldn’t be “wasting” money on things like bridges, roads, rail lines, education, etc. What exactly is worth your tax dollars?

  14. hortonpeak says:

    They will have to pry my pickup from my cold dead hands. But, then that may very well happen as the crumbling roads continue to crumble. I too will be joining the demolition derby on 512 tomorrow since no viable transportation exists other than the good old all american armed personal transportation device.

  15. First of all Jen, no one on here has said one word about anyone working for minimum wage or driving wages down so ya nice try pal. The middle class will cease to exist if you liberals continue to have your way. There is no middle class in your socialist utopia only rich elites that love telling you what to do, say, and think, oh and even tell what to eat while they gorge. Stop saying you care about the middle class when you really don’t. Stop lying to your self and others.
    Crumbling what? You libs love to use words and phrases that try to paint a picture that just isn’t there. Crumbling infrastructure oh my! All across America these so called shovel ready jobs that were to fix our crumbling infrastructure, which is BS by the way, haven’t quite panned out have they? All taxes are bad, good grief are you serious? Some taxes are necessary for services etc. The waste comes from social entitlements, especially those that benefit non citizens. That one has always baffled me. No one is owed anything and unions are not sacrosanct and add to wasted tax dollars. Heck I would vote myself a raise all the damn time too.
    Good night.

  16. rsegura: nobody said a word about piety until you brought it up; ditto light rail. You must be attempting an argument, but the devil if I can tell what it is.

    In your dreams and nightmares you’ll get the message, baby.

    By the way, I’m not your pal. I expect nobody really is.

    hortonpeak: why is the bus or the train or carpooling or vanpooling not viable? It seems to be viable for a lot of other people. Not to downplay the humor of your comment, which I appreciated for a moment; nevertheless, I drive the interstates and state highways every day, extensively, and don’t have much complaint about their state. They’re not the best, but not the worst either: they’re drivable. Tacoma streets are a different matter–the maintenance on those seems to have been done with Styrofoam by a cousin or crony of whoever awarded the bid.

  17. rsegura – You’re way too angry to look at things in a reasonable way. And by the words you use, you sound like you probably are on one of the “socialist” programs you hate: Social Security, Medicare, maybe getting veterans benefits??? How about unemployment? Unless you are willing to give up all of the socialist benefits you now enjoy- you really have no credibility whatsoever.

  18. Pointing out flawed arguments or personal attacks does not make one angry . . .

  19. Zaqar, if you can’t follow there’s nothing I can do for you pal. You get the gist of what me and others are saying here. And I sleep just fine pal. As for Tacoma streets we agree, they are crap. Ask yourself who has been in charge of Tacoma for decades. Your fellow big spending liberals.
    Gen, you and your fellow statists are the angry ones. What is reasonable about the status quo in this state and country? The majority of America is fed up with it and hopefully the gravy train will end soon. I don’t collect any of the benefits you mention. I am an American citizen so it would be hard for me to collect benefits. This is another tactic liberals use when they can’t win a debate. To follow your logic, if any government service or benefit is used by anyone than they must allow for all entitlements no matter how detrimental they are to the tax payers and they shouldn’t complain about the costs. For example, if someone calls the police or fire department or attends a crappy public school from that moment on they lose credibility if they dare opine negatively about how they operate. What a weak pathetic argument. Its not the same thing at all. As I mentioned before those are great examples of NECESSARY services.
    Take another toke and try again.

  20. klthompson says:

    So Washington is going to get a pot full of money turned down by Wisconsin and Ohio. Maybe some of the numb-skulls in Olympia should consider asking both those states for their reasoning. Maybe, just maybe, it is a pig in a poke.

  21. nvanputten says:

    I’m not sure why you complain about local government, when you haven’t voted in a municipal election in years- if ever. I just checked last name Segura in the voter registration roles (feel free to do the same with vanputten- it’s public records). If you want to complain, try voting. It’s a good first step.

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