The 2005-2007 Transportation Budget provided funding to the Transportation Commission to conduct a statewide rail capacity and needs analysis (ESSB 6091, Section 206, (3)). The budget proviso reads as follows:
“…The purpose of this study is to
- assess the rail freight and rail passenger infrastructure needs in this state;
- review the current powers, authorities, and interests the state had in both passenger and freight rail;
- recommend public policies for state participation and ownership in rail infrastructure and service delivery, including but not limited to planning and governance issues; and
- develop a rail asset management plan.
The commission shall report their findings and conclusions of this study to the transportation committees of the legislature by December 1, 2006.”
Stakeholder Input Process
- The Commission held two, half-day study feedback/comment sessions during their August and September Commission meetings in Olympia.
- The Commission heard from a vast array of stakeholders during these sessions, including the ports, shortline representatives, agricultural shippers, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific, Amtrak, local governments, Washington State Department of Transportation, Freight Mobility Investment Board, and others representing many diversified interests in rail.
- The testimony and comments received from the stakeholders during these sessions was applied to the development of the study’s draft scope of work. This draft was sent to all of the stakeholders, as well as State Legislators and the Governor’s Office, for review and further comment.
- The comments received on the draft were incorporated into a final scope of work that is the focal point of the “Request for Proposal” (RFP) issued on October 28th.
RFP Scope of Work Highlights – 10 Key Tasks
Task 1: Review the role of rail in the state and national economy.
Task 2: Determine the current status, future plans, capacity constraints and needs of passenger and freight rail service in the state, including the interaction between freight and passenger service.
Task 3: The major freight-rail-dependant supply chains of the state will be analyzed as to production, structure, volume and corridor/direction of traffic, current and future levels of transportation capacity needs, and current impediments impacting the major supply chains.
Task 4: Communications and public involvement in rail plan implementation.
Task 5: Investigate and determine the current and expected operating practices of participants in the rail industry.
Task 6: Examination and positioning of the Washington State rail program in national studies and funding possibilities.
Task 7: Develop the conceptual approach underlying the rationale of state participation in private rail investments.
Task 8: Develop a menu of practical policy options, analyzing the full (private and public) costs and benefits of the alternatives.
Task 9: Develop rail asset management plan for state owned assets.
Task 10: Summary recommendations and plans for implementation.
- Study proposals were due November 21st.
- The Commission will announce the selection of the successful consultant at their December 13/14 Commission meeting.
- The study will commence in January 2006 and will be completed by December 2006 at which time a final report will be due to the Legislature.
- Throughout the study, the Commission will actively engage and consult with key stakeholders and interest groups.
For further information, please contact Reema Griffith, WSTC Administrator at 360.705.7070.