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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

A high speed train with a one hour travel time between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. sounds like a pipe dream, but Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state is working to make it a reality.

The topic was broached at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference in Vancouver last year, and it has since gained steam. The Washington State Legislature allocated $300,000 for a feasibility study, and Microsoft announced this week it will kick in another $50,000 to move the project forward. The scope of the project has expanded to also include Portland in the route.

Inslee said the study is meant to lay down the vision for the project and begin establishing key parameters like where the train would stop, how fast it would go, what kind of technology it would use and how often the trains will run.

“It is a meaningful effort,” Inslee said of the high-speed rail plan. “I expect next year we will have some meaningful progress; this a big scoping project.”

Washington state launches feasibility study of a bullet train connecting the region’s biggest cities. (BigStock Photo)

Transportation is a hot topic at this week’s conference, and the region in general. If you think traffic is bad now, just wait until 2040. Speaking at the conference, King County Executive Dow Constantine cited figures saying the Vancouver area’s population is expected to increase by 50 percent from 2.2 million to 3.4 million in the next few decades. In Seattle, population is expected to rise about 30 percent, to approximately 5 million people in the region by 2040.

High speed rail could alleviate traffic issues, and also juice Washington and B.C. economies, Inslee said.

“High speed rail, you cannot overstate what that would mean for the economies of both regions.”

Inslee, a consummate sports fan, made several hockey analogies throughout his speech. He envisioned a world in the near future where Seattle has an NHL team as well as means to quickly get thousands of people back and forth between Vancouver and Seattle.

“I look forward to the day that we have, not a subway series, but a high speed rail series between the Canucks and the Thunderbirds with a high speed rail corridor where our fans can go back and forth, that would be a great series,” Inslee said.

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