As recommended by the 2020 Joint Transportation Committee study, the next step toward re-establishing passenger rail service between Spokane and Seattle is to conduct a benefit-cost analysis as required to receive funding from the Federal Railroad Administration. There is an unprecedented amount of funds available if the state applies now.
AAWA has submittetd a draft proviso to the Legislative Rail Caucus for their consideration.
(a) $950,000 of the multimodal transportation - state appropriation is for the Washington State Department of Transportation to determine the benefits and costs associated with establishing intercity passenger rail service between Seattle and Spokane via the Stampede Pass corridor through Yakima and the Tri-Cities.
(i) This analysis must build on the technical and engineering analysis conducted for the Washington Joint Transportation Committee report dated July 2020: “Feasibility of an East-West Intercity Passenger Rail System for Washington State.”
(ii) The study’s findings must be consistent with the methodology contained in the U. S. Department of Transportation document “Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance for Discretionary Grant Programs” dated March 2022 as may be amended.
(iii) The study’s findings must be consistent with the U. S. Department of Transportation goals regarding “Transportation Disadvantaged Communities.”
(iv) The study’s findings must provide analyses of ridership estimates under scenarios of one, two, and multiple daily round-trip frequencies.
(v) The findings must reflect feedback received from community outreach, which must be conducted according to the principles called for in House Bill 1541.
(b) A report of the analysis findings is due to the transportation committees of the legislature by [June 30, 2024 suggested; exact date to be determined by legislature].
(c) WSDOT is directed to submit an application to the U. S. Federal Railroad Administration that would establish Seattle-Yakima-Spokane as a corridor under FRA’s Corridor Identification and Development Program.