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Seattle to Portland in an hour: WSDOT releases results of ultra-high-speed transportation study

This Feb. 26, 2015, photo shows a full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train, displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

By: KIRO 7 News Staff

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Department of Transportation released the results of a study Monday that evaluated the potential impact of ultra-high-speed ground transportation in the Pacific Northwest.

“Ultra-high-speed ground transportation could transform the Pacific Northwest by decreasing travel time, improving overall mobility and boosting economic growth, according to new study of the concept,” a spokesperson for WSDOT wrote in a news release. 

Researchers examined travel times of trips that were less than two hours between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon, and trips that were less than one-hour between Seattle and each city. 

The study expanded on a 2017-2018 preliminary examination and was delivered July 12 to the state Legislature.

“The prospect of uniting Washington, Oregon and British Columbia with an ultra-high-speed transportation system that propels us into the future is incredibly exciting,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. 

WSDOT said the ultra-high-speed system is projected to travel at over 200 mph on high-speed rail, magnetic levitation or hyperloop technology.

“The all-electric system would be standalone, rather than sharing or relying on existing infrastructure. It would include some elevated tracks and tunnels, with no at-grade crossings with roads,” a WSDOT official said. 

The authors of the study found the ultra-high-speed ground transportation could: 

  • Create a new transportation spine in the region, transforming mobility for all residents.
  • Draw new companies to the region and create an estimated $355 billion in economic growth.
  • Be built within the 2017 estimate of $24 billion to $42 billion in upfront construction costs.
  • Provide between 1.7 million to 3.1 million one-way annual trips at start-p, in what analysts called a conservative estimate.
  • Generate between $160 million and $250 million in initial annual revenue.
  • Improve the environment with a projected reduction of 6 million metric tons of carbon emissions in the first 40 years as travelers opt for the ultra-high-speed option rather than private vehicles or planes.


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