Solutionary Rail, along with our allies at Climate Rail Alliance and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, worked on necessary revisions for the House/Senate Transportation Budget.
If your legislator:
- is on the House or Senate Transportation Committee (*see roster in the table below)
- cares about saving Snake River salmon, or
- represents SE Washington constituents
(We advise choosing NEUTRAL for your Position, as there are some needed revisions.)
Points to make in your commentary, regarding SE Washington Rail:
Solutionary Rail submitted proposed revisions to the 2023-2025 WA State Transportation Budget. I urge you to make those revisions to HB 1125 / SB 5162, as they offer a budgetary roadmap for putting rail in service of the public good. Their roadmap addresses environmental, cultural and economic crises with appropriate urgency. As your constituent, I strongly support investments in a rapid mode shift of freight and passengers to rail within the next 5-10 years - because rail can’t wait.
Please Incorporate into your Commentary these Suggestion for Amendments:
Operating Budget - Rail connectivity in SE Washington is critical for ensuring farmers can get their grain to market, using reliable, robust, interconnected, and cost-effective rail.
- Strike 223-5: Filing an Intent to Abandon - even as part of a railbank process - must be postponed until after the Transportation Study and design is completed and the usefulness of this section determined.
This track between Colfax and Pullman may prove to be an essential rail intersection for freight and passengers. It is premature to abandon rail assets in SE Washington.
Amend date in 223-3b: The Joint Transportation Committee shall provide a final report to the governor and the transportation committees of the legislature by Dec 31 2023.
Amend agency/items in 223-3a:
The Governor's allocation for a $5million study should be for the Joint Transportation Committee, rather than WSDOT, and should include input from stakeholders, …. including rail advocacy organizations in Washington State.
Benefit Cost Analysis of rail line development options should reflect the Solutionary Rail 8 Point Plan and include data on emissions, safety costs of current patterns, and ways to maximize price competition. The study should analyze potential changes in volumes and traffic patterns following the loss of freight movement by barge; identify improvements to infrastructure and operations needed to accommodate higher freight volumes, maximize price competition, increase connectivity, and enable short line rail service to connect to both class 1 railroads as well as Columbia River barges.
Add items in 223-3a:
Conduct a Benefit Cost Analysis of returning Columbia Plateau Trail to rail service
Analyze restoring track to FRA class 3 standard, (40mph freight/60mph passenger) on routes with potential for future passenger service, including lines between Pullman, Hooper, Marshall and Pasco.
Expand governance of the PCC Authority to include counties were state funded rail improvements are made to improve service around the lower Snake River
Analyze converting Wa state owned PCC track infrastructure to an open access system, in order to increase utilization and competition.
Evaluate the expansion of the Wa State Grain Train program to provide both additional rolling stock for increased wheat volumes, as well as expansion of the program to lease diesel-electric and/or battery-electric locomotives to reduce fuel costs and emissions; identify routes where regenerative braking may offer a significant reduction in fuel cost and energy savings.
Rail Can't Wait: Add a new item: “The department shall re-establish a dedicated Rail Office staffed with experts in rail engineering and operations so that maximum planning with private and public entities and the tribes can be accomplished beginning in the 2023-2025 biennium, for:
- The SE Washington rail network (improved transport options for agricultural goods),
- East-West Service via Stampede Pass tunnel (serving central WA and inland ports), and
- North-South service on the Amtrak Cascades corridor.
- The Rail Office will promote the improvement of rail transportation in the state
CAPITAL Budget – SE Washington Rail components
- Amend Section 310-5a - Don't constrain the PCC system revenue; track improvements and bridge restoration must be funded to accommodate a potential dramatic increase in volumes. A system that meets farmers’ and passengers’ needs must plan for growth.
With amendments to HB 1125/SB 5162, we can leverage this once-in-a-lifetime moment of opportunity - made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law - to design a system that works for generations to come, helps farmers get their grain to market, and gets Washington state back on track.
*Roster of Members on Transportation Committees
|House Transportation Committee||Senate Transportation Committee|
|Fey, Jake - CHAIR||Liias, Marko - CHAIR|
|Donaghy, Brandy||Lovick, John|
|Paul, Dave||Shewmake, Sharon|
|Timmons, Joe||King, Curtis|
|Barkis, Andrew||Holy, Jeff|
|Hutchins, Spencer||Cleveland, Annette|
|Low, Sam||Fortunato, Phil|
|Robertson, Eric||Hawkins, Brad|
|Berry, Liz||Kauffman, Claudia|
|Bronoske, Dan||Lovelett, Liz|
|Chapman, Mike||MacEwen, Drew|
|Cortes, Julio||Nobles, T'wina|
|Dent, Tom||Padden, Mike|
|Doglio, Beth||Randall, Emily|
|Duerr, Davina||Valdez, Javier|
|Entenman, Debra||Wilson, Jeff|
|Goehner, Keith||Wilson, Claire|