Re: “One hour between Seattle and Portland? It’s possible” [Sept. 23, Opinion]:
The recent Op-Ed promoting the Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation project amounts to a shiny advertisement. But this “ultra” high speed concept in no way responds to the urgency of the climate crisis. It would be two to three decades before we see jobs and service that would alleviate traffic congestion. We have 10 years or less to reduce our carbon emissions by at least half.
There is a practical way forward for better passenger rail that makes efficient use of Washington state’s past rail infrastructure investments. The Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan upgrades and expands nearly all existing rail right of way and serves 14 communities. Service between Seattle and Portland in 2.5 hours (10 trains a day) and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., in 2.75 hours (four trains a day), more accessible with Wi-Fi, healthy food service and higher speeds than currently, comparable to train travel in most European and Asian countries. This project could be completed in eight years. Service would continue and be upgraded incrementally with each phase of the project.
We have a solution in plain sight to upgrade the rail corridor that we have, integrated with our community transit and ready for riders before 2030.
Brent McFarlane, Seattle, Climate Rail Alliance