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Port of Vancouver Seeks Stimulus Cash

by Libby Tucker
The Columbian, July 27, 2009

About $40M in grants are tied to high-speed passenger rail projects

The Port of Vancouver says it has a chance to pull in about $40 million in additional federal stimulus grants pegged for high-speed passenger rail projects.

The port this month submitted two applications for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the Washington Department of Transportation. The state is angling for a $1.8 billion chunk of the $8 billion available for projects needed to build a series of high-speed connections stretching from Vancouver, B.C. to Eugene, Ore. It also applied for $152 million in short-term rail projects.

Although the port's West Vancouver freight rail access project is aimed at easing congestion for freight trains to and from its docks, it carries the secondary benefit of easing all train traffic in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor. That's why the port is eligible for the federal passenger rail funding.

Untangling freight traffic in Portland and Vancouver will be necessary to free the corridor for high-speed passenger trains, said Addison Jacobs, public affairs director for the Port of Vancouver.

The port wants $21.7 million of Tier 1 federal grants to fill the remaining funding gap for its unit train loop track at Terminal 5.

The port is also making a pitch for about $25 million in Tier 2 funding for its portion of the city of Vancouver's downtown waterfront access project. Together, the port and the city have asked for a total of $35 million to $40 million in funding, said Jacobs.

Stiff competition

The Port of Vancouver is a relatively small operation and will face stiff competition nationally for the funding. To its advantage, the port's freight rail project has been in the works for several years, and most of the design and construction permits are already complete for the loop.

"We're a project that's far more ready than others," said Jacobs. "The timing has worked out well for us."

The port's freight access project has already received $2.5 million in federal stimulus money that went to state road and freight projects.

The state's final applications are due to the Federal Railroad Administration by Aug. 24, with funding announcements expected to begin by the end of the year.

Libby Tucker
Port of Vancouver Seeks Stimulus Cash
The Columbian, July 27, 2009

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