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Cascade train seeds

Cascadia bullet train on track for big bucks to get rolling, but big uncertainty remains

For more than five years, Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia have collaborated on studies of a possible Cascadia bullet train to run between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. This winter, the Washington Legislature approved money for yet more studies. But state lawmakers also set aside a much bigger sum to attract federal support that could advance the bullet train dream toward being shovel-ready.

Project supporters envision a train with a top speed of at least 250 mph operating on a dedicated track. That could whisk travelers from Vancouver, B.C., to Seattle in one hour and from Seattle to Portland in another hour, in a climate-friendly manner to boot.

The current top speed of Amtrak trains in the Pacific Northwest is 79 mph. Those passenger trains are routinely delayed by congestion on a mainline shared with freight trains.

“Look at Spain. Look at France. Look at Germany. Look at Italy. Look at China, look at Japan,” said Washington Senate Transportation Committee Chair Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) in a rat-a-tat cadence. “We’re not the first ones to this game. Candidly, we’re probably in the tail end. We’re sort of getting in last into this space following the lead of many of our global competitors.”

Democrats in control of the Washington Legislature tucked $150 million into a recently approved state transportation infrastructure package for what they are branding as “ultra-high speed rail.” Liias said the goal is to attract four times as much in matching dollars from the new federal infrastructure bill. If the federal Department of Transportation gets onboard, that could total up to $750 million to get a Cascadia bullet train off the drawing board.

In an interview, Liias said such a sum of money would allow the states and their consultants to “do community outreach, environmental work, designing and planning to get a significant proposal in front of decision makers in British Columbia, Oregon and Washington and our federal funding partners.”

He added that the partners still need to figure out how to pay the high cost of right-of-way acquisition and actual construction. A feasibility study completed in 2017 pegged the cost of building a Vancouver-Seattle-Portland bullet train at between $24 billion to $42 billion dollars depending on how much tunneling is involved.

Skeptics are already raising cries of “boondoggle” together with warnings to heed what is happening in California. The underway Los Angeles to Bay Area high-speed rail project is suffering from ballooning costs, slow construction and endless lawsuits.

“The $150 million is both a large sum of money and also surprising,” said transportation policy analyst Mariya Frost of the conservative-leaning Washington Policy Center. “For me, it’s surprising because the state has far bigger and more meaningful priorities in maintaining existing roads and building out the projects they promised in (2015).”

Even within the community of rail advocates, there are mixed opinions about what track to take in Cascadia. Bill Moyer of Vashon Island, who co-authored the book Solutionary Rail, said he fears lawmakers have been seduced by a bright, shiny object, meaning the bullet train.

“It’s obscene,” Moyer said in an interview. “It really takes all the oxygen out of the room for offering common sense solutions in a timely manner.”

Moyer argued taxpayers and travelers could get better bang for the buck and environmental goals would be achieved quicker by prioritizing improvements to the existing Amtrak service.

“If you spent $10 billion on the north-south corridor and another couple billion doing the electrification of railyards and rail lines, we’d start to have a very functional system that was very competitive for passengers and freight in a much shorter timeline, in a way to actually make a difference for the climate,” Moyer said.

Power players like Microsoft, Amazon, Costco and governors past and present are vocally backing the Cascadia bullet train proposal and sending thank-yous to the Legislature.

“Linking Vancouver, B.C., Seattle and Portland will promote additional collaboration and innovation, expand job opportunities and enhance the region’s position on the world stage,” Microsoft’s Irene Plenefisch told lawmakers during a committee hearing last month. “It’s a transformative project that will be a game changer for generations to come.”

Senator Liias said an ideal outcome would be to win federal funding for both a future bullet train and upgrading existing Amtrak Cascades service.

Washington state lawmakers put strings on their bullet train down payment. The $150 million in state money can’t be spent unless it unlocks a federal match. It will probably be another year before the Federal Railroad Administration divvies up the billions in competitive grants for new passenger rail projects across the nation.

In the meantime, the Washington Legislature’s latest transportation budget included a separate $4 million in state taxpayer money to continue planning and outreach on ultra-high-speed rail contingent on Oregon and British Columbia making “meaningful financial contributions.”

Copyright 2022 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.


(Tropaeolum majus)
EXCLUSIVE – Spitfire’s brilliant, scarlet-red blossoms shine out amongst trailing lily pad shaped green foliage and their nectar is adored by hovering hummingbirds. Train them up short trellises or tripods for a cascade of bright blossoms or use the abundant, fiery-colored spurred flowers and their handsome leaves as a perfect way to disguise neglected areas, soften fences or walls, or tumble from big containers. Both flowers and leaves are edible with a flavor reminiscent of watercress with a pinch of honey.



Sow seeds in spring once all danger of frost is over in full sun (or part shade in hot climates). Nasturtiums need no added fertilizer in most soils. Poke seeds into well-worked soil about 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. Press soil firmly over the seeds and keep moist. When seedlings are large enough to handle, thin 10 to 12 inches apart so plants will have ample room to grow.


Sow 2 seeds each in individual 4-inch pots of well-drained seed starting mix 3 weeks before last expected frost date. Cover 1 inch deep. Provide a strong light source. When seedlings have several sets of leaves, pinch out the weaker seedling leaving 1 seedling per pot. When weather is evenly in the 50°F (10°C) range, gradually acclimate to outdoor conditions. Transplant 10 to 12 inches apart in full sun.


Climbing nasturtiums are easy to grow in any well-drained soil. You’ll need to train young plants onto their supports with loose ties, then they’ll climb easily and bloom non-stop. Do not let plants dry out during blooming season. Spitfire’s glowing blossoms are summer beacons for hungry hummingbirds.

Cascade Hops Bine

Popular among craft brewers. Attractive bines are moderately vigorous. Dark-green cones are medium-sized, elongated, and compact. High yields. Used in brewing for distinct, medium-strength herbal aroma as well as bittering qualities. Low alpha acids with a spicy, citrus-like flavor. Bines require a support system — train to grow on a fence or hops trellis. Originates from Oregon State University in 1956, introduced in the 1970s. Named for the Cascade Mountain range. Ripens in August.

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Since 1816, Stark Bro’s has promised to provide customers with the very best fruit trees and plants. It’s just that simple. If your trees or plants do not survive, please let us know within one year of delivery. We will send you a free one-time replacement. If the item in question is not available, we can issue a one-time credit to your account equaling the original product purchase price or issue you a refund. Read more about our warranty policy.