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Bill introduced for high-speed rail authority in Northwest

Could a high speed rail work in Washington? (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A bill was introduced Wednesday to establish a high-speed rail authority in Washington state. The proposed authority would partner with Oregon and British Columbia on a new high-speed line.

RELATED: Millions to be spent on studying high-speed rail for Washington

The Urbanist first reported on the bill that essentially would task a high-speed rail authority with cobbling together a structure to allow for operation across Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

The bill would allocate a total of $3.25 million to develop the authority that would preside over the three areas, and produce a train with a maximum testing speed of at least 250 miles per hour.

If it were to happen, the train could theoretically connect Portland and Seattle in under an hour.

No such trains operate in the United States. The fastest train, Amtrak’s Acela Express, hits maximum speeds of 154 miles per hour, but averages about half that speed on its route between Washington D.C. and Boston.

“It could be a game changer,” said Washington DOT spokesperson Janet Matkin, speaking about the train last summer.

RELATED: Portland to Seattle in an hour for a Washington bullet train?

In July 2018, the Province of British Columbia, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Microsoft announced a $750,000 contribution toward studying a high-speed line. That was in addition to the $750,000 the Washington State Legislature had already approved for the study, for a total of $1.5 million.

The study is expected to be completed by July 2019.

According to a report the Washington Department of Transportation released in February, the line could cost at least $25 billion — or even more than $40 billion — to build.

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