LaHood on Washington state high-speed rail agreement

Commenting on President Barack Obama’s plans for and investment in high-speed rail, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood issued the following written statement:

“President Obama’s historic investments in a national high-speed rail network will enable America to win the future by creating construction and manufacturing jobs today and laying the foundation for future economic growth.

“By building safe, reliable and energy-efficient passenger rail corridors we will be able to help small businesses thrive and move people and goods more quickly than ever before.

“I am thrilled to congratulate the State of Washington, BNSF [Burlington Northern-Santa Fe], and Amtrak for their contributions to the agreement signed today [Feb. 26] by the Federal Railroad Administration and Washington DOT that will make $590 million available for work to begin on significant improvements to the popular Cascades corridor, which connects Eugene, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver.

“Thanks to the hard work, dedication, and flexibility of all parties involved in the negotiations, this agreement will immediately put Washingtonians to work in good paying jobs, significantly improve rail service for commuters and travelers, and preserve the world-class freight rail system America has today.”

Additional background on the agreement:

‪As part of Obama’s long-term vision to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail in the next 25 years, this initial $590 million in funding for high-speed and intercity passenger rail will create more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Washington region.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the performance standards included in this agreement will benefit travelers because of two additional daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, a 10-minute reduction in travel time, and reliability improvements of up to 88 percent.

With the signing of this agreement, five of the six high-speed rail corridors that require coordination with freight railroads now have a signed agreement in place.

The Department of Transportation says it “will build on this momentum to realize President Obama’s vision of a national high-speed rail system that will allow American workers to out-build, out-innovate, and out-compete the rest of the world.”