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A Conversation on Washington State High Speed Rail

April 18, 2023 @ 5:30 pm 6:30 pm PDT

Presenter: Jason Boloso, Strategic Planning, Rail, Freight, and Ports Division, WSDOT

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Cascadia Ultra High Speed Rail Route
Cascadia Ultra High Speed Rail

The Cascadia Ultra High Speed ground transportation (UHSGT) system would connect people and communities, increase economic competitiveness, and improve quality of life across the Cascadia megaregion. This fast, safe,
predictable way to travel would connect the metro areas of Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, WA; Portland, OR, and points between and beyond. With equity as a guiding principle, the UHSGT project could help connect local workers to family wage jobs, increase access to affordable housing choices, and offer greater mobility for almost 9 million people. This project is also part of a growing movement to mitigate the impacts of climate change by using clean energy. Rather than relying on congested highways or increasing air traffic, UHSGT offers a sustainable alternative to traveling greater distances quickly and

The 2017-2018 UHSGT feasibility study confirmed the viability and demand for this project. The 2019 business case explored benefits of the project including economic growth potential in excess of $355 billion, with 200,000 new family wage jobs related to construction and ongoing operation of the service.

As 2020 draws to a close, the Cascadia region is facing an unparalleled health, economic, climate and social justice crisis that requires rethinking the status quo and developing new ways of doing things. Bold investments in projects such as UHSGT can provide an infusion of near term construction jobs and long term economic benefits, while providing zero emission, equitable and modern
infrastructure for future generations. This UHSGT 2020 Framework for the Future lays out a potential path forward with the critical next steps for decision makers to advance the project in the areas of governance, strategic engagement, and funding and financing.


Jason Beloso is the Strategic Planning Manager at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Rail, Freight, and Ports Division. Jason has been leading the department’s high speed rail work in coordination with Oregon, British Columbia, and private sector since 2016. He and his team recently submitted three federal funding applications to move forward with project planning, capitalizing on the $150 million in matching funds provided by the legislature. Jason has been with the department since 2007 and lives in Seattle.