The Cascadia Innovation Corridor links Vancouver and Seattle and offers the opportunity to provide leadership, innovative problem-solving and increased prosperity beyond what each city can achieve independently. When we work and think like a region we become more than the sum of our parts, allowing Cascadia to have a bigger positive impact on the world’s health, environment and prosperity.
By maximizing the Greater Pacific Northwest’s competitive advantages and enhancing our position as a global hub of innovation and commerce, the vision of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is to become one innovative economic zone that generates a shared sense of identity and belonging as its centerpiece. With a focus on research, economic development and transportation, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is enhancing improved connectivity, productivity, health outcomes and innovation for the benefit of people living in the region, and beyond.
Bringing people, jobs, and high-speed transit to our existing mid-sized cities is a foundational step to sustainable growth in Cascadia, but it is not enough. Based on urban development patterns both within our mega-region and across North America, we project 800,000 people could be accommodated within our existing mid-sized cities. 1.5M more will be absorbed through small increases in density in our urban cores and development around existing and planned transit. This leaves an additional 1.3M people unaccounted for.
To make room for this additional population, we propose one potential concept for consideration: the creation of newly expanded "hub" cities in currently underdeveloped areas within Cascadia. While there are other solutions, we believe a big, bold option is necessary and we want to encourage other creative alternatives for discussion and debate. In our proposed plan, these hub cities will operate much like some of our existing mid-sized cities, but provide additional capacity for the significant growth in our future, through 2050 and beyond. They would provide jobs, affordable housing, and direct and convenient transit to both surrounding neighborhoods and urban cores.
With cross-jurisdictional funding from British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, and private partnership from Microsoft, feasibility studies are already underway for high speed transit in the Cascadia mega-region. Key findings from the first phase of the study, released in July 2019, include:
• UHST would spark up to $355B in economic growth in Cascadia
• UHST would generate $160-$250M in annual revenues
• Construction costs estimated at $24-$42B
High-speed transit is a necessary backbone for the future of Cascadia that supports all three pillars of a sustainable mega-region.
By connecting currently underdeveloped areas of our mega-region, UHST would open the door to development of more affordable housing near transit stops. UHST is projected to capture 12-20% of intercity trips or 3 million annual trips by 2040. In addition, it has the potential to fundamentally change commute flows for newly expanded mid-size cities, dramatically reducing transportation emissions and making a marked impact on congestion across Cascadia.
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