Oil trains

A passenger commuter train, left, passes an oil train parked adjacent to the King County Airport in Seattle in July 2016.

The idea of passenger trains making a direct connection from the Puget Sound to the Tri-Cities will be the topic of discussion at a meeting hosted by All Aboard Washington this month in Walla Walla.

The meeting is set for 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, at Walla Walla Best Western Plus Suites Inn, 7 E. Oak St., according to information from All Aboard.

The “informal” discussion will center around expanding state-supported Amtrak passenger rail service, improving rail connections between local and regional transit services and building and revitalizing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.

All Aboard Washington is a statewide advocacy group aimed at improving safety, accessibility and sustainability of transportation in the Pacific Northwest.

Participants will hear what All Aboard has been working on, plus be given an opportunity to provide feedback on what transportation needs the region is lacking.

“With targets for reductions of vehicle trips, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic fatalities all coming due over the next decade, immediate actions should be taken to sustain our state’s economic vitality, environmental commitments, and equitable access for all citizens,” All Aboard Washington Co-executive Director Patrick Carnahan said in the release.

Currently, Amtrak connects via train from Portland to Pasco, and then via bus from Pasco to Walla Walla. There is no train service connecting Seattle to the greater Walla Walla area right now without switching trains in Portland.

According to the All Aboard release, there has been an increased demand for a rail service that could reconnect Seattle, Yakima, Pasco and Spokane.

The Walla Walla meeting is part of All Aboard’s 2021 Train Trek on Aug. 15, hosted across the state both in-person and online.

More information on the 2021 Train Trek can be found on the group’s website at aawa.us. Participants are asked to register at the website before the event.

Rail service for passengers used to be commonplace in the Walla Walla Valley, according to local historian Diane Reed.

Reed wrote in Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine, a publication of the U-B, that historic train depots can be found all over, including the current locations of Walla Walla Steak Co., Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen and the Canoe Ridge Winery tasting room, to name a few.

Most rail services to Walla Walla were phased out by the mid-20th century, Reed wrote in her article.

Jedidiah Maynes can be reached at jedidiahmaynes@wwub.com or 509-526-8318.

Jedidiah Maynes is a reporter for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin covering a variety of topics including local court cases. He enjoys making music and puns.

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