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 the 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.
The Cascadia ultra-high-speed ground transportation (UHSGT) system would connect people and communities, increase economic competitiveness, and improve quality of life across the
Cascadia megaregion. This fast, safe, predictable way to travel would connect the metro areas of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR, and points between and beyond. With equity as a
guiding principle, the UHSGT project could help connect local workers to family-wage jobs, increase access to affordable housing choices, and offer greater mobility for almost 9 million people. This project is also part of a growing movement to mitigate the impacts of climate change by using clean energy. Rather than relying on congested highways or increasing air traffic, UHSGT offers a sustainable alternative to traveling greater distances quickly and reliably.
During a 2016 conference on the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed an agreement saying they wanted to work together to create a new technology corridor that would include a high-speed transportation system. With support from the governor, the state Legislature then asked WSDOT to analyze the feasibility of such a system to help lawmakers decide if it makes sense and identify next steps they could take to move it forward.
The 2017-2018 UHSGT feasibility study confirmed the viability
and demand for this project. The 2019 business case explored
benefits of the project including economic growth potential
in excess of $355 billion, with 200,000 new family-wage jobs
related to construction and ongoing operation of the service.
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