U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was recently on the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. His appearance focused on the future of high-speed passenger rail in the United States and what areas are possibly on deck for the first set of investments from the Obama administration.
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Secretary LaHood didn’t mention the Cascadia Corridor in his “Daily Show” interview. But Cascadia Center of Discovery Institute, like many in the region from British Columbia down through Oregon, believes strongly that the Cascadia Corridor should be among the first to receive high-speed rail investments. The arguments in favor of this corridor are plentiful. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s grant request outlines how some investments could be allocated.
The Cascadia Corridor, of course, is bi-national, requiring investment and cooperation on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Earlier this month, as part of Cascadia’s effort to help push the issue of securing Canadian investment in the corridor for additional passenger rail service, our organization sponsored a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. Washington State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen led a delegation of 60 people — private sector and government leaders — to engage in discussion about some of the ways to assure future success of passenger rail in the corridor.
For the Cascadia Corridor, the 2010 Winter Olympics and the need to transport tourists along the corridor is the most immediate impetus for increased service. But long-term, long after the last athlete has left the Olympic village, a robust and healthy passenger rail system in the Northwest could very well play an important role in the region’s vitality.