Cascadia high speed rail advocates plan strategy as Republicans take aim at rail investments

Three newly-elected Republican governors in the US have rejected federal high speed rail funding for their states — don’t ask me why — triggering turmoil along the Cascadia rail corridor that ends here in Vancouver.

So far, the cancellations elsewhere have meant $161 million additional dollars for Washington State, money that has been waved away by the new leaders of Wisconsin and Ohio. But none of the more than $782 million awarded to Washington this year has been nailed down and House Republicans could wipe it all out in 2011.

Many of the US political leaders and rail advocates who worked so hard to ensure that Canada supported a second Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver are meeting there next week to develop strategies. Their goal: to protect Washington State’s rail funding.

So far, Washington’s offer to take any rail funds that other states have rejected is bearing fruit.

But according this analysis in a Seattle transportation blog, House Republicans may not only seek to roll back high speed rail funding across the board next year, they may seek to force state governments to increase their rail subsidies.

The news from the US aligns all too well with the news from Toronto, where newly-elected Mayor Rob Ford, declaring the “war on the car is over,” has cancelled an $8 billion light rail plan after more than $100 million has been spent. Ford will now demand that all new construction be underground.

Clearly, the battle for sustainable transportation investment has just begun.