Vancouver Port Lands High-speed Rail
The recipients of the recently redistributed high-speed rail funds include the Port of Vancouver USA, which will receive a $15 million share of the $2 billion pot from the U.S. Department of Transportation. To be administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the high-speed rail grant will enable the port to complete a portion of its planned West Vancouver Freight Access (WVFA) project.
The proceeds will fund construction of a grade separation to eliminate a congested intersection and bottleneck between freight and passenger track. Crews will build a separate track for freight cars carrying cargo in and out of the port to free up capacity on a BNSF Railway Co. mainline and enable passenger-rail traffic to reach more consistent speeds. The project will reduce delays on the freight and passenger mainline by up to 40 percent, as well as triple the port's rail capacity during the coming years, Port of Vancouver USA officials said in a prepared statement.
Construction on the $38 million portion of the WVFA project -- which will be partially covered by $18.3 million in matching funds from the port -- is slated to begin in April 2013 and conclude in January 2016. To be completed by 2017, the entire $150 million project calls for establishing new dual-carrier rail access into the port (via both BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad); enhancing the port's internal rail system; relocating facilities and utilities to accommodate track realignment; and improving area roadways.
"This funding will help construct a section of the port's rail project . . . [and] open up a bottleneck that has caused congestion on a rail line that connects Chicago, Houston and the western seaboard," said Port of Vancouver USA Executive Director Larry Paulson.
The project also will help advance WSDOT's plan to add two daily round-trip Amtrak Cascades trains between Seattle and Portland, Ore., increasing the total number of daily trips to six.
The federal grant "will allow us to advance our work to address problem areas in the corridor, resulting in better on-time performance with fewer disruptions and delays," said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.
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