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the state transportation
secretary told me last week, adding one lane
in each direction from Portland to Vancouver BC, would cost a hundred
billion dollars. Double what high
speed rail would cost. (upbeat music) – Hi I’m Scott Leadingham,
thanks for joining us here, in the unique Northwest. We are with Tom Banse
today, and the theme is: Transportation of all sorts. Tom thanks for joining us today. – Happy to be with you. – So Tom. Okay so it covers a lot
of transportation issues, and there are multiple ones that we’re gonna
talk about today. First Tom, I’m wondering, what do you have in your wallet and are you real ID compliant? Because that is going to be
something very important, for Washington and
Oregon travelers here, in the next year. Tell us why. – Well, I’ll tell you. I have an enhanced
driver license, which I’m very glad I got
a number of years ago. This will be very valuable, for getting on airplanes
starting next October. So October 2020, the
federal government says: no more extensions, you have to have a
secure driver’s license, to get on a domestic flight, basically pass through
the TSA checkpoint, not Spokane, nor Seattle
or Portland International or any other federal
airport checkpoints. This as you can see
on your screen there, is an enhanced driver license
from Washington State, the Oregon version doesn’t
come out till next summer. So there’s gonna be a
very short amount of time, in Oregon, to get, a
compliant document. The distinguishing element, is that star in the
upper right hand corner in the Oregon license, or the flag you can see, overlaid on the photo on
the Washington license, those indicate to the TSA agent that you have a secure license that meets the
federal requirements. A regular driver’s license
from Oregon or Washington, will be good for
almost everything, a license is good for now, except for going into say
a federal military base, starting next year. And going through
airport security, which is federally controlled. – Okay so, it make
us wonder Tom, or at least it makes me wonder, why have Washington
and Oregon been, I guess out of
compliance for so long? Like why aren’t all 50 states
just on the same standard, and why are some playing
catch up at this point? – Yeah it’s a very
good question. Because this dates back to 2005, when congress passed what’s
known as the Real ID Act, and that is a follow on from
the 2001 terrorist attacks, when some of the terrorists
in the nine eleven attacks, used fake licenses
to learn how to fly. So, the federal government’s
been harping on this for a while on the states to improve their
document verification, to scan everything, somebody brings into the DMB when they apply for a license
and save that information on a server forever. Make those photos that
they take of us digital. That was considered by states, many states, probably half the
states in the US at one time, until unfounded mandates, so they dragged their feet, and Washington and
Oregon are among them. Over time, a lot the things
the federal government wanted, states came around to saying
yeah that’s a good idea anyway, and we’ll do it, and it hasn’t become
that big of a burden now in recent years. And the federal government
gave our states, many extensions over the years but now they’re saying
this October 20 date, that’s hard deadline, we’re not gonna give
you anymore chances to kick the can down the road. – Well, we encourage everyone
to look into their wallets, and see if their license does
comply with these standards, and if not, you
have about a year, to figure it out. – Yeah and one thing we should
point out very quickly is, you may have an alternative
in your wallet already. And this may not affect you
if you have a US passport, or another country’s passport,
or you have a military ID, or a federally
recognized tribes ID. There is a lot alternatives
that may put you right, at the airport which is mainly
what we’re talking about, at this point, domestic
air travel anyway. – Right, so let’s move off
of planes and unto trains. I-976, passed by
Washington voters, the 30 dollar car
tabs initiative, meaning that a lot of
transportation projects, are potentially at risk. And so Tom, we’ve
heard a lot about maybe the federal
impacts in King County, in the Seattle area, based
on the South Transit Budgets, and they’re gonna sue, to possibly try to
change things there. But let’s hope beyond that, to maybe Central and
Eastern Washington, a lot of counties are scrambling for what they
might do with this. What are some of the impacts
out of the South region, and across the
rest of the state. – There are quite a few, and the hit probably
is gonna be biggest on the smaller transit agencies. So this will be like Garfield
County, Graft County, Washington, some of
the transit agencies in the Columbia River gorge. They get a lot of their
funding from state grants, and the part of money that
those grants come from, was wacked quite a bit by the
initiative the voters passed, earlier this month. So transit agency, their
state wide association, is joining the law suite to enjoin basically
initiative 976, that would allow counties to keep collecting
county cutout revenue, which also goes into transit as well as just regular
road maintenance, around you know places
from Central Washington particularly the Spokane area. That law suite, is pending. So we don’t know if a judge
will say effective December five when the initiative was
supposed to take effect, whether it actually will or not. So transit agencies
are also going to the state
legislatures, saying: help us out, at
least temporarily, the state has surplus money, it’s really unclear based on a hearing I went
to yesterday afternoon. Whether the state
legislature will step up and just say we’ll bail
you out temporarily. So I would expect
serious cutbacks in transit operating hours
to be the first thing we see, starting this winter
quite possibly. And then next year, just regular road maintenance
may be cut back quite a bit, like filling potholes, cheap seal on your
neighborhood streets, and it’s like that. – Well, if there is one thing
everyone can rally around, it is the idea of
fixing potholes, we’ll certainly look at that. Tom, even with that uncertainty about the
transportation funding, it appears that plans
however are moving forward with at least the
idea to further study the high speed rail
proposals between Vancouver, British
Columbia and Portland. So connecting much of the West
side of the cascades there. Just remind us, some of the
background of the need for this, and why frankly has it taken
so long for high speed rail, to even get to this point of
being studied in the Northwest. For a highly innovative, and technological
region of the country especially in the Portland
to Spokane region. But one could argue
that China, Japan, a lot European
countries are far ahead of this region and the
United States in this way. Why is that? – Well, the problem
at this point is that our existing Amtrak
service shares the rail road, the tracks with freight trains, and the freight
trains own the line and the trains can’t really
safely go a lot faster than the 80 miles
per hour they now run in the Amtrak cascades corner. So to get to true
high speed rail, which, as you said,
other parts of the world have enviable systems, they pay much higher
gas taxes than we do to subsidize that by the way. In our region we’d have to
build a new Right of Way for a true high speed rail. And that would be
extraordinarily expensive, to buy that land, it will involve tunneling, it will involve
a lot of bridges, to get through Western Washington
from Vancouver to
Seattle to Portland. I don’t know where
42 billion dollars will come from at this point. But, there is a lot
of enthusiasm because
the alternative is putting more lanes
on interstate five. And that, when you think
about 42 billion dollars being an extraordinary ask, the state transportation
secretary told me last week, adding one lane
in each direction from Portland to Vancouver BC, would cost a hundred
billion dollars. Double what high
speed rail would cost. That to the advocates
makes the case That to the advocates
makes the case to kick starting this,
and actually very soon, moving to Right of Way
planning and acquisition. – I know the problem is
just turning on the presses and start making money. Isn’t that how it works? (laughter) Maybe not. Let’s be realistic though. This could happen, maybe, sometimes in our life, sometime in our lifetimes, the high speed rail on the
West side of the cascades. – I’d like to see it. But I’m not sure if it’s
gonna be in my lifetime. – Okay so then if
it’s a hard sell on the West side
of the cascades, even more of a dream on the
East side of the cascades, connecting Spokane,
the tri cities, up to Seattle, you know, down to Boise or
something like that. Is that in anyway even
in the conversation? Or if that is so
far beyond the pail? – It is in the conversation. Now this might not be the
same really high speed rail that we’re talking
about for the I5 corner, which is 250 miles
per hour trains, in the visioning
process at least. But there is talk
about bringing back the cross state trains, that you know, many
decades ago, existed. A group called All
Aboard Washington, which is lobbying groups and
advocacy for rail advocates and enthusiasts. They succeeded in tacking
on a little provision on the West side ultra
high speed rail study to revive an East West train
in the stampede past quarters, that’s now being
studied by a consultant, we’ll probably get
a report next year, on ridership and cost. This would revive the
train from Seattle that would go over the mountains
through the Yakima valleys, to the tri cities and
then up to Spokane. The trouble is the
operating cost longterm. Amtrak, I learnt when
reporting about it, similar idea to revive a
train from Portland to Boise, through the Columbia
River gorge, Amtrak doesn’t pay
for trains anymore, that run less than
750 miles per hour, I mean at 750 miles. And so that means, you know, a cross state
train Seattle to Spokane is about 350 miles, the run, Portland to
Boise is about 500 miles. The cost would have to
be borne by the states. And again you know, we’ve subsidized just about
all forms of transportation to some degree, but finding new
money to subsidize, an expansion of service, of this nature is, can be hard in the legislature, no two ways around that. – Okay let’s move
on to something else not necessarily a fantasy, but it is something
to watch out for, or maybe listen for, that is the return of the
supersonics to the Northwest. And no, we don’t mean
the basketball team. Sorry Sonics fans. We mean super sonic jets and them being tested for
potential commercial use. Tell us more about that. – I was really interested in
this when I heard about it. So the Port of Moses Lake, and a tenant at the
Moses Lake Airport called Harold Tackwood does aircraft
certification, flight testing and engineering. They have heard about
companies elsewhere, in the US, these are mostly aerospace
manufacturing startups, that want to bring
back supersonic flight, which has not been around
since the Concord was retired in 2003. Moses Lake is
already used somewhat for testing new airliners, think of the Mitsubishi Regional
jet that you see there now, and so boosters there
think you know, why not, make a big square in the sky, long rectangle or it’s a
little bit shy as you can see on the map there, parallel to the Canadian border, and bring lots of jobs for
the flight testing for this. Maybe a little safer
to put it over land rather than over the ocean, because then if
there is a problem, you can divert to
the nearest airport. That proposal is into the FAA, and we’re waiting, probably won’t be till
next year whether we hear if that flies. – I’m gonna be a
little cynical here, we’ve heard of
commercial space travel, that’s like companies wanting
to take people to the moon or to Mars or just in the orbit. And people being
able to pay for that. That is for the wealthy, not
for the average traveler, not for the average
vacation goer. Is the eventual return of
commercial supersonic air travel only for those who
can really afford it and the rest of us are
still paying 50 bucks to check our luggage in coach? – I’m afraid so. So two of these proposals are
for supersonic business jets, so these will be cooperate CEOs, whose time apparently is
far more valuable than ours, and so they’ll go from
Los Angeles to Japan in three and a half hours
or something like that, in a roughly you
know 18 person jet. One of the proposals though, from a company called
Bloom Supersonic which is based on
the East coast, they are thinking of you know, 50 to 75 passenger airliner. Now that would be an
all business class jet, so still probably
not for you and me, but you know, if you do well in life, maybe at some point, ten years from now, you can take a very
quick trip to Paris. – Something to strive for. I’m sure all those
corporate CEOs will have plenty of golden
parachutes on those jets. Tom, thank you so much
for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure
to talk with you. – Likewise. – You can see all of
Tom’s reporting on this and other topics at, nwpb.org. Thank you for joining us. Here in the Unique Northwest. (stimulating music)

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