Thanks to Senators Rebecca Saldaña and Maralyn Chase, we've finally made a bit of progress in the WA State Senate Transportation committee. There's some fragile language in the Senate version of the supplemental budget that addresses our request for feasibility study of the Solutionary Rail approach, but does not fund the working group it creates and the investigation it requests. [See pages 47-49 of Senate supplemental budget. ]
Here is an excerpt of the Senate's supplement budget, Sect. 222, #3 on page 48 with the Solutionary Rail-related language:
"Within existing resources, the department shall convene a work group on the electrification of rail lines in Washington state. The work group shall be comprised of, but not limited to, railroad owners and operators, rail electrification experts, and financial experts.
The work group shall:
(a) Investigate the cost of electrification for freight and passenger rail;
(b) Review the costs and benefits associated with electrification on the mainline north-south and east-west routes in Washington;
(c) Determine whether a market business case may exist for electrification investments; and
(d) Review potential funding sources and mechanisms.
The department shall provide a report of its study findings to the governor and transportation committees of the legislature by June 30, 2019."
First, thank Senator Saldaña (Vice Chair) and Senator Chase and other members of the Senate Transportation Committee who have opened the door for Solutionary Rail, AND ask them to strengthen their support for the Solutionary Rail related rail electrification work group. (They have also resisted giving taxpayer money to the Gates/Inslee boondoggle.)
Ask leadership of both the Senate and House Transportation committee to use the reconciliation process to bring this budget back from the brink of boondoggle with a smart investment in the study of Washington's sustainable transportation future.
Ask Senators Hobbs, Saldaña, and King AND their counterparts in the House, Representatives Clibborn, Fey, Wylie, and Orcutt to:
Make sure the Rail Electrification Work Group is in the final supplemental transportation budget language.
Provide the rail electrification work group the necessary resources to fulfill its mandate by re-allocating $900,000 from the House budget away from Governor/Gates boondoggle to the rail electrification work group.
Require that the Ultra High Speed Rail group add the "higher-speed" (up to 110mph - already determined to be the optimum speed for the corridor) to their cost benefit analysis.
- Mandate that Solutionary Rail be able to select at least two of the participants of the rail electrification working group. (Don't let this effort be dominated by BNSF.)
- Make sure the Rail Electrification Work Group is in the final supplemental transportation budget language.
Campaign Lead for Solutionary Rail