Read the complete paper here: Washington State DOT’s Ultra High-Speed Ground Transportation Business Case Analysis (UHSGT) is a promotional brochure riddled with serious errors and misstatements

Key Findings 

  1. The term “Ultra High-Speed Ground Transportation (UHSGT)” was invented by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), perhaps in an attempt to give the Vancouver, B.C.-to-Seattle high speed rail proposal the appearance of being unique, and to distinguish it from California’s disastrous High Speed Rail project. However, it does not meet WSDOT’s own criterion of >250 mph minimum speed for a high-speed rail system. 


  1. The prime contractor for the UHSGT report, a firm called WSP, stands to gain from the project. To date, WSP has won $666 million for work on California High Speed Rail, which is in deep trouble, with WSP currently under investigation. 


  1. The report has numerous errors and misstatements; all make UHSGT look better. These repeated, one-sided errors call the quality and reliability of the entire report into question. 


  1. The UHSGT report presents that adding a lane in each direction to I-5 would cost $195 million/lane mile – over 65 times the $3 million/lane mile for the original Interstate Highway System (both in 2018 dollars). 


  1. Adding two lanes to I-5 would carry well over double the passenger-miles of high-speed rail on weekdays in the Seattle Metro area. 


  1. The report substantially understates travel times for UHSGT, claiming much of Vancouver, B.C. can be reached from Portland in two hours, while saying elsewhere that travel time could be two hours and 45 minutes. 


  1. The report claims the Cascadia corridor has the second highest employment of 15 large Canadian and U.S. areas. However, the comparison is meaningless because it compares the entire Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor to individual metropolitan areas, and falsely overstates regional employment by 40 percent. 


  1. The report neglects major technical problems, cost overruns, funding shortfalls, and delays that are common in such projects, suggesting all will go well. Remarkably, one similar project offered as a model came in 80 percent over budget and opened a year late, while another model project is 70 percent over budget and seven years late. 


  1. There is no mention whatsoever of the many significant problems with California High Speed Rail – the project most similar to UHSGT – or with many troubled major capital projects in Washington state.