Proviso for Funding Feasibility WA State Legislature 2017

[The actual amendment to the WA State Transportation budget is now available via http://SolutionaryRail.org/srfeasibility20170329 ]

Transportation Budget Proviso Request: Solutionary Rail Independent Feasibility

The appropriation in this section is subject to the following conditions and limitation:  The appropriation is provided solely for a five part initial study of the feasibility/viability of infrastructural investment in the electrification of rail lines for freight moving along the Northern Transcon corridor, and to determine the benefits that could occur to related to the creation of jobs, improved rail worker and community safety, tribal and rural renewable energy development, impact on habitat and treaty protected fisheries, agricultural access to markets, public health and air quality for fenceline communities, and public savings on highways.  Further any positive or negative impacts on achieving Greenhouse gas reduction goals from such investments will be investigated and initially estimated.  The study must be conducted under contract with qualified transportation economist(s) at Washington State University. 

(1)  Part one of the study will seek to investigate the cost of a “public belt” of electrification for freight and/or passenger rail. Such study will look to the potential for such a system to be powered by renewable energy sourced from the power along corridor as the traffic moves through the corridor.  Further the ability and viability of utilizing the corridor Right of Way (ROW) for the transmission of HVDC and HVAC is to be evaluated.  Specific details will be determined in the study scoping as the first work task of this Phase.

(2)  Part two of the study is a review of the cost and benefits of increasing track speeds in the corridor (Northern Transcom).  A review of literature must be used to identify the differing sourcing/type of benefits.  To the degree possible the relative magnitude of possible benefits will be produced. Costs must be inventoried both as technical cost estimates and economic costs.

(3)  Part three of the study will be a market analysis of relative impacts of track improvements leading to speed upgrades, determining to the degree possible in this initial study whether a business case exists for investments leading to 80 or above miles per hour.  The business case investigation must preliminarily determine whether the combination of track speed and other rail improvements that increase speed capability could be made to repay public investments via appropriate user fees.  Alternative benefit sources will be investigated and categorized in this phase.

(4)  Part four of the study will be an investigation of the specific possible role of HV transmission along the ROW in creating such benefits. The study must examine how the inclusion of conditions such as railroad workers protection, safety requirements (technically and regulatory), and required or encouraged use of renewable resources/energy, before public investment would occur, affects the viability of the potential project.

(5)  Part five of the study will evaluate funding sources and mechanisms, including a State or Interstate Infrastructure Bank entity as the alternative funding for the “public belt”, including tax and user fee incentives for investment fund generation.  A review of alternative sourcing in other states, regions and international investment schemes would be a deliverable of the study. 

The report must be submitted to the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the legislature by December 1, 2017.

 

Appropriation:

XXXXXXXXXXX account                                                             $250,000

Prior Bienna  (Expenditures)…………………………………………………$0

Future Bienna (Projected Costs)……………………………………………  $0

TOTAL……………………………………………………………………$250,000 

 

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