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Washington State DOT trashes rail passenger services

It looks like Washington State, once a transportation leader, is now taking the lead from Arkansas and the other southern states that would not know what a passenger train looks like. Put this down to the vice grip of highway speical interests and a permanent “public be damned” attitude.

WSDOT Headquarters – News
310 Maple Park Ave. SE Olympia, WA 98504-7407, 360-705-7000

March 16, 2009

Contact: Scott Witt, State Rail and Marine Director, 360-705-6903

WSDOT restructures State Rail and Marine Office

OLYMPIA –The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced today that it has restructured the State Rail and Marine Office to improve efficiencies and service, eliminating a total of four positions; three vacant positions and the position of Rail Passenger manager.

“Rail, both passenger and freight, is a critically important component of the state’s transportation system”, said Scott Witt, State Rail and Marine Director. “We don’t take these moves lightly. But we believe this restructure allows us to combine and focus all of our assets in support of Washington’s rail program”.

An internal review and a survey of stakeholders revealed that the top three services that the State Rail and Marine office should focus on are freight and passenger rail planning, rail project management, and targeted communications.

The office has been segmented into three operating teams responsible for data and strategic planning, financial management, and delivery/project management. Moving forward, the State Rail and Marine Office will continue to focus on aggressively pursuing federal stimulus funding referencing the Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan, the recently released Amtrak Cascades Mid Range Plan, and the department’s strategic project list in accordance with Legislative directive.

The State Rail and Marine office directs and manages the state’s freight and passenger rail capital programs and operations. It enacts the direction of the Legislature as it impacts rail and marine initiatives and manages rail system improvements that support economic development, move people and goods, relieve road and airport congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The department works with railroads, ports, communities, and other organizations to improve the state’s rail system. WSDOT is also responsible for rail project identification, strategic rail transportation planning, development of state rail and marine data, and state grant programs administration.

And that’s it from the Department of Double Speak.

Washington’s Truck Department newspeak no longer allows for the word “passenger” when associated with the word “rail.”

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

6 Responses

  1. Andrew in NorJpn says:

    Hmm, no dedicated Rail Passenger Manager anymore. Oh, well, I suppose that just means more current or future stimulus money going to states with active HSR plans and staff. WA’s loss is their gain.

  2. jon says:

    i guess now its the department of highways

    but washington has one of the best developed passenger rail lines in the country so that money would have been building off what already exists

  3. MadPark says:

    As a born here Washingtonian (61 years) I am appalled and ashamed of our Governor and “Transportation” Secretary. They have clearly, in some kind of panic, caved to the “Road Rangers” and let our excellent director or rail services go. But the Highway Secretary is a highway engineer by training, and has little perspective beyond highways -passenger trains and ferries be damned – would be her mantra, though it would be couched in bureaucratic double-speak similar to the press release above.

  4. EvergreenRailfan says:

    How much life is left in the Cascades trainsets. WSF is good at stretching the life of a ferryboat beyond their useful life, although it takes more and more money to keep them afloat, literally. The Steel-Electrics are a prime example.

    As for the alleged reorganization of the WSDOT, typical. You got something that works, time to re-iinvent it.

  5. MadPark says:

    With their recent refurbishment and the constant inspections by Talgo as stipulated in their contract with WashDOT, those trainsets are good for at least another 12-15 years. They are only run 12-16 hours a day and get a pretty complete look-over in Seattle twice a week.

  6. DanCar2009 says:

    I don’t think this changes much of anything. This position reported to the State Rail and Marine Director, who works for the head of the WashDOT. The head of the WashDOT is a highway engineer and wouldn’t likely be talking directly to the rail passenger manager, but would talk to the Rail and Marine Director. Whether or not that person has much influence with the head of WashDOT is another story. The state is still spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the rail lines along the Puget Sound corridor. Maybe it could be more, but it is more than Oregon or Idaho are doing.

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