Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo visited the Port of Vancouver Friday to review early construction work on a critical rail connection that will link the Port of Vancouver to BNSF Railway’s east-west mainline.
The project, which will reduce delays caused by track crossover of freight and Amtrak Cascades trains, is one in a series of improvements funded through an $814 million investment the U.S. Department of Transportation is making in the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor through the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
“America needs a transportation system that will support growth and strengthen the economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Projects like this are part of President Obama’s plan to rebuild America, put people back to work and ensure we have the safest, fastest and most efficient transportation systems in the world.”
The Port of Vancouver is key to the country’s export corridor. Last year, more than 49,000 railcars passed through the port. A recent study conducted by the Port of Vancouver showed port activities supported almost 17,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2010 and injected $1.7 billion into Southwest Washington’s economy.
“A world-class transportation network is the foundation of America’s economic success,” said Administrator Szabo. “These investments create American jobs in construction and manufacturing, increase America’s exports, and make the Pacific Northwest a better place to start a business or hire new employees.”
Thanks to federal investments, the state of Washington anticipates the number of intercity round trips will increase from four to six, that trip times between Portland and Seattle will be reduced, and that passengers will experience fewer delays. These investments represent a strong first step toward the region’s ultimate goal for intercity passenger rail hourly service between the two cities, with trip times of just 2.5 hours.