We broke this story yesterday on my radio show and it’s a stunner. Before the DuPont Amtrak crash that killed three people and injured hundreds, the Washington State Department of Transportation published a document that described when the rail line would be ready for trains to travel at higher speeds.
On Page 71 of that document, the agency described two milestones they would need to reach in order to make the rest of the line safe for trains going 70 MPH. It says (emphasis is mine):
Amtrak Cascades operates at speeds up to 79 miles per hour. Efforts are underway that will increase the amount of time trains can operate at the maximum speed. This improved operation can be accomplished once the current infrastructure investment program and installation of Positive Train Control has been completed along the PNWRC.
Given what WSDOT wrote in this document, it knew the rail line was not ready for trains to consistently travel at 79 MPH and it knew two conditions it needed to meet in order for travel at that speed. It’s apparent to everyone that WSDOT disregarded its own guidelines. So, why did they do that?
We know they were racing for federal grant moneys. Who made the call? Who signed off on the decision? These are the people who need to answer these questions immediately and explain their role in what led to the tragedy of the DuPont Amtrak Crash.
Roger Millar, Secretary of Transportation for the Washington State Department of Transportation. WSDOT managed the project and its people wrote the document.
Peter Rogoff, so called CEO of Sound Transit. This agency owns the tracks and helped manage the project. According to KIRO Radio, it was Sound Transit’s safety system running instead of Positive Train Control.
This is only the beginning of the questions for these uniquely unaccountable agencies.
Here’s what’s clear: people from WSDOT, Sound Transit, and Amtrak need to be held accountable and not just the taxpayers, who will be forced to pick up the costs of the inevitable lawsuits that will arise from the DuPont Amtrak crash. After all, this week, the State of Washington charged a business owner with a felony and put out a $20,000 arrest warrant because his apparent negligence lead to the tragic death of one his employees. Will Bob Ferguson pursue charges against WSDOT, Amtrak, and Sound Transit executives? Or will he do what he did with the illegal I-405 toll lanes and pretend that “and” means “or?”
The families of the people and those who have been injured need to demand personal accountability for the DuPont Amtrak crash. Roger Millar, Peter Rogoff and Amtrak will simply want to force taxpayers to send a check to lawyers. That will not suffice.