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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has issued a call for consultants interested in providing General Engineering support for the Cascadia High-Speed Rail and I-5 Program. The solicitation aims to evaluate and consider potential consultants for this vital infrastructure project, which is poised to significantly impact the state’s transportation network.

The project envisions the development of a high-speed rail system in the Cascadia megaregion, connecting Washington State with Oregon and British Columbia. Furthermore, it includes comprehensive planning for the Interstate 5 (I-5) corridor, a primary north-south artery spanning the entire state.

WSDOT has allocated approximately $8.5 million for a two-year agreement running from 2023 to 2025, with the potential for extensions depending on future funding availability, notably through federal grant opportunities. As part of the project, the selected consultant will need to incorporate federal funding requirements into their work processes, ensuring compliance with all regulations and standards.

An informational meeting was held on October 26, 2023, by the Urban Mobility and Access and Megaprograms Office of the WSDOT to provide an overview of the program. This meeting allowed state staff to familiarize themselves with the project’s scope and goals. While the informational meeting did not include a Q&A session, questions related to the RFQ were accepted via email until October 30, 2023.

The project, initiated through ESHB 1125, has secured $11.92 million for the 2023-2025 biennium, with an overall plan to direct $40 million through 2029. Collaboration with Oregon and British Columbia has been a pivotal aspect, involving grant applications submitted to the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration in 2023. These grants, if awarded, will provide critical support for the project’s planning phase.

The project’s complexity has led to the establishment of the Cascadia High-Speed Rail and I-5 Program within the Office of Urban Mobility and Access and Megaprograms. To ensure the successful execution of this multifaceted initiative, WSDOT intends to augment its team with a General Engineering Consultant (GEC) The selected consultant will be tasked with providing an array of management, planning, and engineering services as negotiated with the state, extending their support to all aspects of the Cascadia High-Speed Rail and I-5 Program, including commercial aviation mobility. The submission deadline is November 17, 2023.

The Cascadia High-Speed Rail and I-5 Program represents a significant milestone in Washington State’s efforts to enhance its transportation infrastructure and connectivity, promising economic and environmental benefits for the entire region. As the solicitation process proceeds, the state is making significant strides toward realizing this ambitious vision.