FRA Administrator Szabo Joins Portland Officials to Review Portland-Seattle Train Project

PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo on March 16 joined local officials at Union Station to celebrate the Pacific Northwest Passenger Rail Corridor construction project in Portland.

Through the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program (HSIPR), the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $814 million to pay for upgrades to one of the busiest intercity passenger rail corridors in the nation, which runs between Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, OR.  The upgrades are essential, as the number of roundtrips between Portland and Seattle is expected to increase by 50 percent in just five years.

“All across the country, rail projects like this are putting Americans to work creating transportation options while reducing congestion,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood.  “As part of President Obama’s plan to rebuild America, this project is spurring economic development in the short term and will transform American transportation for generations to come by bolstering our economic competitiveness.”

Federal funding will also pay for new trains, which will bring more frequent service south of Portland to Oregon City, Salem, and Eugene. Ridership on this portion of the corridor grew 22 percent last year.  Oregon’s long-term vision includes running six round trips per day between Portland and Eugene and boosting on-time performance to 95 percent with trains reaching speeds of 110 mph.

“A world-class transportation network is the foundation of America’s economic success,” Szabo said. “These investments create American jobs, make the regional economy stronger and produce a more efficient transportation system that’s better for consumers and the environment.”

During his visit, Administrator Szabo met with workers who are replacing the roof at the historic station as part of an effort to modernize it and meet the increased demands of the 21st Century.  The roof project is part of a series of long-overdue renovations that will play an increasingly large role as the region continues to grow.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the three-county Portland metro region grew 13.6 percent during the past decade.