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Old October 22nd, 2008, 07:15 AM   #1961
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So gas prices are falling again, do you guys think that will affect the light rail ballot in November?
I hope not! People should know that gas prices will go up again but will NEVER be cheap like old days again period.
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Old October 22nd, 2008, 07:00 PM   #1962
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So gas prices are falling again, do you guys think that will affect the light rail ballot in November?
Gas price are down, but congestion is not.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 08:56 AM   #1963
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Gas price are down, but congestion is not.
So, let's see how the 4th quarter ridership data of Sound Transit changes after the gas prices have went down.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 09:11 AM   #1964
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very nice project
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 11:34 PM   #1965
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Nice to see a place adopting a proven way of transporting its dwellers around. Tell me, is this new line/network capable of being promoted to heavy rail service; if so, do any of you know if such a transition would be easy to effect on it there?



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I wish Seattle would do something like this:

image hosted on flickr
I don't.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 01:27 AM   #1966
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Wow I posted that picture a while back. Haha now that I think of it, I don't really like it either. Too much maintenance for the grass, and being Seattle (and the U.S. in general), we're not going to spend all that time/money to keep things looking pretty.

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Nice to see a place adopting a proven way of transporting its dwellers around. Tell me, is this new line/network capable of being promoted to heavy rail service; if so, do any of you know if such a transition would be easy to effect on it there?
I believe the same gauge is used for the Seattle light rail system and conventional 'heavy' rail systems. (Let's not get into another discussion about heavy vs. light rail). Seattle's light rail is a much more unique light rail project than traditional light rail, with more grade separations (above grades, tunnels, etc.). While the system itself is called light rail, and train used is a toy-looking light rail car, the infrastructure in my opinion could be equal to those of conventional 'heavy' rails.

I am not sure about the ability of the light rail structures to handle trains such as Sounder (and even if they are able to, many changes would still have to be made). The Downtown bus tunnel section is definitely not going to be suitable for 'heavy' rail since the tunnel has very sharp turns.

Just my two cents.
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Old November 1st, 2008, 05:15 PM   #1967
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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transp...railweb31.html

Friday, October 31, 2008
Last updated 9:50 a.m. PT

Is expanding light rail worth the cost?
The case for -- and against
By LARRY LANGE
P-I REPORTER

It's a passionate argument. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, harking back 20 years, is convinced Puget Sound needs a rail system even bigger than the one it's building. As chairman of the Sound Transit board, he's convinced a rail system will prepare the region for the day gasoline prices rocket out of control again.

Assuming humans cause global warming, Nickels thinks we'll have to start living and working closer together so we pollute less. "That's really going to be a necessity," he said. For the investment of $22.8 billion to expand Sound Transit's system, the economic payback "is very significant."

Not everyone is convinced. Critics of Proposition 1, as they did with last year's version of the plan, argue the new plan will cost too much for what it will produce. They say it will attract relatively few new riders to transit and result in small amounts of pollution reduction or congestion relief.

While backers predict vast amounts of new, pollution-free commuting capacity, "we're going to spend tens of billions of dollars for very little benefit," said Mark Baerwaldt, treasurer and spokesman for the campaign opposing Proposition 1.

Next Tuesday, voters in the urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties will decide the fate of the ballot measure, a scaled-down version of one they heavily rejected a year ago but still costing them in higher sales taxes for at least 30 years.

The plan includes adding 34 miles of light-rail to Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond, expanding Sounder rail service between Seattle, Tacoma and Everett and addition of 100,000 hours of regional bus service. A key dispute between warring ballot campaigns has been costs and economic-benefits of the rail systems, centering on several core issues.

CONGESTION RELIEF

Backers of the measure say trains can carry more people, per paid operator, than buses, and that the number of trips will grow with population and if environmental rules restrict car driving. Sound Transit says each train car will seat 74 but the agency says each has a "comfortable" capacity of 150, or 300 in a two-car train which could carry 2,500 passengers an hour in direction running every 7 minutes at peak hour, as planned.

A two-section, bendable bus, by comparison, can seat 64 and can comfortably carry 83, about 710 passengers per hour in each direction at 7-minute intervals. A highway lane can carry up to 2,200 individual cars per hour.

Sound Transit staffers say the total number of riders on its system, including the new ones, will rise to 358,000 a day by 2030 if the expansion is approved and completed. They forecast that while freeways become more crowded the light-rail rail system could carry 8,800 more rush-hour riders per hour northbound on I-5 at the Ship Canal and 3,300 per hour on the I-90 Bridge that year and can add riders over time.

A Sound Transit cost-benefit study predicts the full cost of the system expansion will be recovered within 10 years after it's completed, almost all of it in commute time saved by both rail and freeway travelers as riders shift from freeways to trains. A consultant's study estimated that most of the economic benefit is in time saved to commuters who take train trips and even drivers whose trips can be shortened if more travelers take trains instead of cars or trucks.

The study concludes the system would save a commuter, on average, just under 10 hours of travel time per year.

But the Washington Policy Center, a conservative think tank, said Sound Transit's own estimates show the expansion "would have no effect at reducing congestion." It said the regional transportation plan shows the region's traffic delay hours will more than double between now and 2030, meaning the expansion would shift just 0.4 percent of the vehicles off the highways onto Sound Transit's system by then.

"You start to question whether the cost justifies the benefits," said Mike Ennis, the center's transportation director.

John Niles, a critics and advisor to the opposition campaign, says that saving is inflated because once drivers shift from cars to rail the freed-up highway space would just be filled with more cars and "they'd lose the majority of their benefit." Light rail backers conceded the expansion won't eliminate highway congestion. Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said the agency's analysis methods were approved by regional planners and the agency's own expert review panel and were "appropriate and conservative" because they didn't include the benefits such as increases in land value or the amount of local spending that would result from building the system. "Not quantifiable," said staff planner Matt Shelden.(cq) Patrick said even if highways fill up again this frees up space on side roads.

The study also didn't consider the effects of expanding the agency's bus system; that wasn't required to get regional planners' approval. Critics don't like the $12.1-billion light-rail expansion cost, at $335 million per mile. Sound Transit said the price, which includes inflation and equipment, is because its system uses tunnels and bridges for separation from other traffic.

TRIP REDUCTION.

A Sound Transit study said the expansion could result in reductions of 5 to 30 percent per year in the number of individual vehicle miles traveled.

The reduction would depend on measures are taken by entities outside Sound Transit to encourage transit riding, such as more ride-sharing programs, more densly-populated developments and measures to encourage walking, bicycling and other non-car travel. The study said reductions vary depending on what approach is used.

The expansion plan "would result in absolute reductions in car trips, vehicle miles traveled, energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants," said the study issued last summer by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff and the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

It said mileage could be reduced between 10 and 30 percent by charging tolls on certain roads or by encouraging more compact developments and allowing shared parking, but programs to match commuters for ridesharing would reduce it between 2 and 5 percent and raising gas taxes could reduce it between 5 and 15 percent.

Without other measures to reduce driving, the study said the expansion would reduce the yearly number of road miles traveled in the region by 0.86 percent, from 99.3 million miles per day to 98.5 million. Ennis said more could be gained spending money to replace the Evergreen Point Bridge or the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Niles said most of the measures aren't part of the expansion program. "There is...no claim that Sound Transit will necessarily do these things," he said.

But Alex Fryer, spokesman for the pro-Proposition 1 campaign said more densely-populated and transit- and pedestrian-friendly developments are planned and will be built and rail is the best way to serve them.

Sound Transit planners said by the critics' logic I-5 and I-90 wouldn't have been built, since each carries just a fraction of the region's trips. "Were they not worth building?" Shelden asked.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT.

Sound Transit's backers have said expanding the system will benefit the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the production of greenhouse gases. Last summer's study said the expansion would reduce pollution from car travel, based on national data showing that transit leads to more compact development and less car driving.

It estimates that the expansion, which includes additional bus service as well as light rail trains in more areas, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 99,550 metric tons each year by 2030 if the current, mostly hydroelectric-generated electric power system is used to run the trains.

It said emissions from diesel-powered Sounder trains will increase as that service grows but predicted fewer carbon-dioxide (CO-2) emissions from long-haul buses, assuming those riders will use trains instead. Critics note that the reduction is 0.7 percent and said that's a low return for the investment. The policy center says carbon offsets could be purchased for no more than $2.3 million. "You can't use any environmental argument to support the measure because the benefits are so low," Ennis said.

Sound Transit and backers of the measure say carbon offsets -- investments in pollution-reducing technology to offset pollution from other sources -- won't go far enough to reduce greenhouse gases. Buying the offsets allows a polluter to keep polluting while the offset is built but it doesn't relieve congestion and "doesn't get anybody around the region better," said Sound Transit planner Greg Walker. He said if the region wants to meet the state's goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 " investing in light rail is the only things that's going to have a reduction." He said the estimated rail system ridership would take more than 25,000 cars off the highways and eliminate burning of 325,000 barrels of oil annually.

"That's definitely significant," Walker said.

INTERSTATE 90 EFFECTS

The "Eastlink" portion of the rail extension, between downtown Seattle and the Overlake area of Redmond, would route the trains over the center lanes of the I-90 Bridge to the Eastside that are now used by cars. The state and Sound Transit have begun work to add two more carpool-bus lanes at the edges of the two outside bridge spans. Part of one new westbound lane has been completed between Bellevue and Mercer Island. Money must be found to add them for the full distance to Seattle. The rail expansion would pay for half the cost of changing the lanes.

The lanes now carry traffic westbound during the morning commute and eastbound at the afternoon peak. If rail runs in the center span the system will change: new HOV lanes on the outer spans will carry traffic but in the same direction at all hours, one westbound, the other eastbound.

The new lanes, when completed, will each carry traffic in a separate direction all day. Officials say this shouldn't reduce the freeway's cross-lake capacity, because the two center lanes between them now carry less than the maximum number of cars handled by one lane.

Ennis of the policy center, however, says the change means "each direction in the peak hours will effectively have one lane," resulting in a 20 per cent reduction in peak-hour road capacity from five lanes to four, which it says will increase crossing delays 27 percent in the morning and 24 percent in the afternoon peak. It also says it will reduce capacity for freight trucks.

Sound Transit denies this and says adding the rail system will increase the number of travelers that can cross the bridge, carrying an estimated 45,000 people each day by 2030. Rep. Fred Jarrett, D-Mercer Island and a House Transportation Committee member, estimates the rail connection adds as much as 10 times the people-moving capacity of lane, though trains won't carry that many riders initially. "How's that reducing capacity?" he asked.

An environmental impact statement discussing the effects of light rail on the bridge won't be done until January, so voters won't have the benefit of seeing it before the election. While officials assume the expanded rail system will run in the I-5 and I-90 corridors, the exact route of off-freeway segments haven't been determined yet.

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Old November 4th, 2008, 09:20 AM   #1968
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Voting starts tomorrow, Everyone got their absentee ballots in already?
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Old November 5th, 2008, 09:20 AM   #1969
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Passed.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 01:19 PM   #1970
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http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...tation05m.html

Light rail getting a yes; I-985 is going down
As election returns came in late Tuesday, voters were favoring Sound Transit light rail and rejecting Tim Eyman's Initiative 985 to help solo drivers.

By Mike Lindblom

Seattle Times transportation reporter

Sound Transit light rail was headed to victory Tuesday, while Tim Eyman's Initiative 985 to help solo drivers was rejected.

The transit measure, Proposition 1, was far ahead in Snohomish County, with close to half the expected mail-in votes counted. It also took a huge lead in King County and was narrowly ahead in Pierce County.

"It's a great step forward," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, chairman of the Sound Transit board. "We've been talking about creating a mass-transit system for 40 years. With passage of Prop 1, we will be able to build that mass-transit system. If you talk to people who want to do business in Seattle — and when I talk about Seattle, I'm talking about the metropolitan system, not just the city limits — one of the great drawbacks they see is the transportation system. They see it as a question. And now we have an answer."

Meanwhile, I-985, which experts said would have slowed express transit buses, lost big. The measure sought to create a state congestion-relief account and open carpool lanes to general traffic in off-peak hours.

Sound Transit

Sound Transit plans to extend light rail to Lynnwood, north Federal Way and the Overlake Transit Center, near Microsoft, by the early 2020s, through a half-cent increase in sales taxes. The $17.9 billion plan would expand express-bus service 17 percent and boost capacity by two-thirds on Sounder commuter trains between Pierce County and Seattle.

Alex Fryer, spokesman for Mass Transit Now, said he was blown away by the lead in Snohomish County, where campaign models predicted just under half the voters saying "yes."

One explanation is that people liked the recent openings of a Mukilteo commuter-train station and the South Everett park-and-ride, he said.

John Niles, a bus-rapid-transit advocate against Proposition 1, said he had no theory for the measure's lead. He did feel voters received plenty of information on all sides of the issues. He had argued buses would serve more locations than light rail.

A larger Roads & Transit measure lost a year ago. Since then, gas prices soared beyond $4 for several weeks, and public demand for transit increased, causing a 10 percent gain in King County bus ridership.

Nickels argued that a train system could eventually handle 1 million daily trips, as population grows over the long term.

Supporters counted on a presidential-year wave of young voters to put transit over the top, while opponents said people would reject the tax during an economic slump.

Opponents bought radio ads emphasizing the tax bite. Treasurer Mark Baerwaldt of Notoprop1.org last week predicted the measure would lose by 10 points.

Proposition 1 endorsers included the Sierra Club, Cascade Bicycle Club, and the downtown associations of Bellevue and Seattle. The "no" campaign's biggest contributor was Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, a longtime roads advocate.

Proposition 1 is the largest of 22 transit measures nationwide. among them a $10 billion bond measure to help fund a $42 billion California bullet train.

Initiative 985

I-985 would open high-occupancy-vehicle lanes except for 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. It would also increase funding to clear traffic accidents; move revenue from red-light cameras and a portion of automobile sales taxes into a state congestion-relief account; and affirm existing state law restricting toll collections. For instance, Interstate 90 could not be tolled to help pay for a proposed $4 billion Highway 520 replacement bridge.

Still, Eyman declared a moral victory.

"I think I-985 made tolls even more radioactive," he said.

For instance, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, opposed the measure, but did say tolls from I-90 should stay "inside the I-90 corridor."

The measure was opposed by former state transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald and Gov. Christine Gregoire.

MacDonald said that as voters learned the details near election day, the measure lost support: "It sank, it wasn't beaten down."

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or [email protected]

==========================================================
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...transpo05.html

Sound Transit's package is passing; I-985 falling short
In early returns, voters split on transportation
By LARRY LANGE
P-I REPORTER

Voters in Puget Sound counties appeared Tuesday to have approved a $22.8 billion transit expansion package, the biggest in several decades. And state voters were saying that highway car pool and bus lanes should remain open only to car pools and transit, rejecting the latest Tim Eyman transportation initiative.

Sound Transit's Proposition 1 was its second attempt in two years to expand its rail and bus system beyond what it already operates or is building. The package is to be financed by a 0.5 percent increase in the sales tax in the urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. In early returns, the measure was passing in Snohomish and King counties.

Backers said the package was needed to relieve congestion, to provide commuters with alternatives to single-occupant cars and to reduce air pollution. Led chiefly by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, they said gasoline prices are likely to continue to rise, despite recent declines in oil prices, and the expansion will provide a needed alternative for travelers.

Voters rejected an even larger package a year ago that included a highway-improvement levy. Backers decided to try again this year, hoping higher gas prices and higher transit ridership and the presidential race would bring out more favorable voters.

"There's a sense of the new reality ... that the age when we can get around exclusively by car is over, and we need to catch up," said Mike O'Brien of the Sierra Club, which backed this year's measure.

Opponents, as they had last year, said the measure would cost taxpayers far too much for what it offered and that higher taxes were a bad idea in a tough economy.

If the measure ultimately passes, it will expand Sound Transit bus and commuter rail service and add 34 more miles of light rail line, extending the system under construction to Northgate, Bellevue and Highline Community College by 2020, to the Overlake area of Redmond by 2021 and to Lynnwood and the Federal Way area by 2023.

Initial work on the expansion will include ordering of new buses and a bus-expansion plan out for public comment in January. If the measure gets approval, its plans also include finishing environmental studies early next year for the light rail connection to the Eastside, choosing a precise route and starting engineering. It may also begin designing the rail route between the University of Washington and Northgate and start buying more Sounder rail cars.

The car pool lane measure, the Eyman-backed Initiative 985, would have opened car pool lanes to all traffic in nonpeak hours and required local governments to synchronize traffic lights on arterials. It would have set up a statewide traffic-congestion account for projects, financed by money collected by cities and counties in fines from red-light cameras and by 15 percent of the state sales tax revenue from auto sales.

It also would have required tolls charged on specific bridges or highway segments to be used only for projects on those highways. Eyman said one intent was to remove what he called a profit motive for the cameras, which he said have been installed to raise revenue for local governments. Some liked the idea of opening up the car pool lanes

But opponents said cities and counties already synchronize signals, and opening the car pool lanes to all traffic for part of the day could fill those lanes with more traffic. Others said shifting money to build roads would hurt schools, health care and law enforcement and could hurt the sale of bonds to finance a new Evergreen Point Bridge.

P-I reporter Larry Lange can be reached at 206-448-8313 or [email protected]. Read his Traffic Watch blog at blog.seattlepi.com/seattletraffic.
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Old November 5th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #1971
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YES!!!!!!!

Now we need to get to work on getting as much federal matching funds as possible so we can speed up the scheduled delivery. This is great news for the puget sound region - congrats!
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Old November 6th, 2008, 02:34 AM   #1972
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YES!!!!!!!

Now we need to get to work on getting as much federal matching funds as possible so we can speed up the scheduled delivery. This is great news for the puget sound region - congrats!
Congrats Seattle!

Biden is a big rail fan (he commutes from Wilmington to D.C. via Amtrak) and Obama lived in Chicago the past 20 years so I think the federal government will provide more money for mass transit.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 03:43 AM   #1973
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Congrats Seattle!

Biden is a big rail fan (he commutes from Wilmington to D.C. via Amtrak) and Obama lived in Chicago the past 20 years so I think the federal government will provide more money for mass transit.
Obama supports high-speed rail and I am sure Biden does too. It will be amazing to see what happens in the near future. I just hope that the west coast will as much, if not more attention than the east when it comes to rail.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 04:26 AM   #1974
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Obama supports high-speed rail and I am sure Biden does too. It will be amazing to see what happens in the near future. I just hope that the west coast will as much, if not more attention than the east when it comes to rail.
I hope they can work with the feds here in Canada to provide a good solution to cross the border via rail.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 05:27 AM   #1975
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I hope they can work with the feds here in Canada to provide a good solution to cross the border via rail.
That would definitely be a good idea. Vancouver to Seattle, or Quebec to Chicago.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 07:07 AM   #1976
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That would definitely be a good idea. Vancouver to Seattle, or Quebec to Chicago.
Just because I live in the area, I'd love to see HSR down the pacific coast - including Vancouver BC. It's a long way off, going through a lot of jurisdictions and bureaucracy, namely the US and Canada.

But back to the subject of Seattle light rail -

I'm very pleased to see Prop 1 pass, even though the sales tax in my county, King, will be up to 9.5%. That was the biggest sticking point with a lot of people I personally talked to. Thankfully, enough were willing to pay.

As to the overall pricetag - I think it's pretty reasonable when we're getting close to a metro system anyway with the near complete grade separation, possible train lengths of four cars, and potential headways approaching two minutes at peak.

A lot of people don't realize that our topography and limited available right of way at-grade makes it much more difficult to build an at-grade system.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #1977
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Would it be too mountainous to build an HSR line from Vancouver down to San Diego? I always thought that Washington state and Oregon had very extreme topographies. But then again, I've never been to North America so I could be completely wrong.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 09:06 AM   #1978
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Would it be too mountainous to build an HSR line from Vancouver down to San Diego? I always thought that Washington state and Oregon had very extreme topographies. But then again, I've never been to North America so I could be completely wrong.
These were the corridors that were designated for development of a high speed rail line in the US.

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Old November 7th, 2008, 09:32 AM   #1979
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Would it be too mountainous to build an HSR line from Vancouver down to San Diego? I always thought that Washington state and Oregon had very extreme topographies. But then again, I've never been to North America so I could be completely wrong.
We currently have ONE daily train between Vancouver and Seattle, and I doubt there will be a brand new High Speed Rail line between BC and Oregon.

Though Washington State is funding major renovations for its section that should improve speed and service on the corridor.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #1980
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Yes. My only concern that we have existing railroads in downtown Seattle area that still having traffic across the railroads. It would be dangerous for high speed rail to use that railroads since it could hit people, animals, and vehicles and even existing trains. I think it is only better solution for this issue... Build a new high speed rail tunnel under downtown Seattle for safety reason. I know it would be very expensive but still.
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