Friday, February 02, 2007

WSDOT Combining Passenger, Freight Rail Offices

Submitted by Paul Ellis

WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald has announced the promotion of Barb Ivanov, who has led the Freight Strategy and Policy Division since 2004, to director of the new Freight Systems Division. WSDOT is combining its passenger and freight rail offices.

Scott Witt, WSDOT multimodal manager, assumes the title of “State Rail and Marine Director” leading the newly combined passenger and freight rail offices.

“Governor Gregoire has directed and other freight interests groups have advocated for a more robust statewide freight program for planning and coordination,” says Paula Hammond, WSDOT chief of staff. “And we believe combining resources in a single location will increase coordination for our rail programs and lead us to a more focused relationship with Washington’s freight industry,” she adds.

The Washington Transportation Commission’s Statewide Rail Capacity and Systems Needs Study released in 2006 included a recommendation that “the state should designate a single entity to coordinate and direct the State’s participation in the preservation and improvement of the rail transportation system.”

Washington’s ports have suggested that WSDOT combine its rail functions into a single division so the state could place a greater focus on the rail system’s capacity to respond to increased demand for container movement and port access issues. In addition, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Road and Union Pacific railroad will have a single point of contact at WSDOT for both business coordination and strategic planning and partnership opportunities.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community's largest transportation planning effort.

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