Legislative Actions - Feb 29-March 4

With the 2024 Legislative session coming to a close next week, this is an important time to communicate to legislators who are about to negotiate the transportation budget.  If you could take a few minutes to write to members of the House Transportation Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee this week, your voice could help us achieve progress for sensible rail in our State.

Please send an email to members of the House and Senate Transportation Committee.

Email addresses are HERE. (You can include them all in the "TO" line of your email; it's not necessary to send separate emails.)


Thank you for your leadership this session. I am writing to ask that you continue to show leadership in funding upgrades to the Amtrak Cascades program in the supplemental budget.

I am concerned about climate change and mobility justice and it is important that the state improve rail options for the traveling public on a timeline that can make a difference.

The window for accessing federal dollars for Amtrak Cascades will not be open long; I urgently ask that you, as a legislator on the Transportation Committee, direct WSDOT to apply for available funds for the Amtrak Cascades rail line.

Only $25million of the $50million that was set aside for the Ultra (UHSR) project in the 2023-2025 biennium can be used as a state match for Corridor ID Program dollars.

Also, I'm asking you to prioritize Amtrak Cascades this session by taking these 4 steps:

  1. Ensure that the Amtrak Cascades program is funded on an equal or greater footing with the UHSR program in the supplemental Transportation budget through June 2025. 

2. Give clear directions to WSDOT to meet previously established service goals:

* Trip times of 2.5 hours each way between Seattle and Portland and 2.75 hours each way between Seattle and Vancouver

* Frequencies of 14+ round trips per day Seattle-Portland, and 5+ round trips per day Seattle-Vancouver, B.C.

* On-time reliability of at least 95% to make Amtrak Cascades service attractive and increase ridership.

3. Direct WSDOT to follow FRA guidelines to submit previous work as part of Statement of Work applications when requesting funding under the Corridor ID Program. Direct WSDOT to update the Long Range Plan for Amtrak Cascades (2006) with current cost estimates for use in its alternatives selection process and in its development of the service plan.

4. Itemize two projects on the Amtrak Cascades route for funding: 

* Point Defiance Bypass alignment change near Mounts Road to eliminate a major bottleneck and allow for faster, more reliable service on the corridor

* New 110 mph dedicated passenger track between Nisqually and Centralia.

These projects can be funded by federal CRISI grants at an 80/20 federal/state match, and they do not need to wait for completion of WSDOT’s new Amtrak Cascades Service Development Plan.

Lastly, the Rail Can’t Wait Campaign requested additional funding priorities this session – a study of rail yard electrification across the state, a benefit cost analysis of East-West passenger service via Stampede Pass and the Yakima Valley, and a 9-month study of shortline rail connectivity between Rosalia and Pasco. These requests (totaling $1,600,000) remain affordable if CCA funds are equitably dispersed, and I ask that you make every effort to include them in the budget.

Support for Amtrak Cascades requires both a fiscal commitment and clear directions to WSDOT. Please allocate state match dollars necessary for accessing federal dollars while they’re still available. Please direct WSDOT to optimize improvements to this program as outlined above.

Thank you,

Your name

Please let us know below the outreach you did and if you received any reply.  Thank you for helping us get closer to rail in the public interest for Washington State!