The state, counties, local communities, ports, railroads, labor, and shippers all benefit from continuation of rail service and should participate in its preservation. Lines that provide benefits to the state and local jurisdictions, such as avoided roadway costs, reduced traffic congestion, economic development potential, environmental protection, and safety, should be assisted through the joint efforts of the state, local jurisdictions, and the private sector.
State funding for rail service, rail preservation, and corridor preservation projects must benefit the state's interests. The state's interest is served by reducing public roadway maintenance and repair costs, increasing economic development opportunities, increasing domestic and international trade, preserving jobs, and enhancing safety. State funding for projects is contingent upon appropriate local jurisdiction and private sector participation and cooperation. Before spending state moneys on projects, the department shall seek federal, local, and private funding and participation to the greatest extent possible.
(1) The department of transportation shall continue to monitor the status of the state's mainline and branchline common carrier railroads and preserved rail corridors through the state rail plan and various analyses, and shall seek alternatives to abandonment prior to interstate commerce commission proceedings, where feasible.
(2) The utilities and transportation commission shall intervene in proceedings of the surface transportation board, or its successor agency, on abandonments, when necessary, to protect the state's interest.
(3) The department of transportation, in consultation with the Washington state freight rail policy advisory committee, shall establish criteria for evaluating rail projects and corridors of significance to the state.
(4) Local jurisdictions may implement rail service preservation projects in the absence of state participation.
(5) The department of transportation shall continue to monitor projects for which it provides assistance.