As the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause of the accident, RPA officials said its association members and staff are mourning Hamre’s loss, as well as the loss of Hamre’s friend, Zack Willhoite, who was also an RPA member.
“Jim was among the country's most-respected and effective rail advocates and a good friend and mentor to me. I will miss his counsel, and our community is poorer for his loss,” RPA President Jim Mathews said. “Both Jim and Zack have been advocates of transit and passenger rail for decades, and we can’t thank them enough for their work. Our thoughts are with their families at this time as they work through this tragedy.”
“Jim was proud of the part that rail advocates played as stakeholders in expanding passenger rail services in the Northwest,” RPA Chairman Peter LeCody said. “Last year,he took my wife and me on a tour of the region showing how important rail is to connect us in our daily lives. I will miss my friend Jim.”
Hamre was a board member for the RPA, as well as a vice president of All Aboard Washington.
Hamre started work on the Milwaukee Road in the early 1970s while studying at Washington State University. He went on to work at the Washington State Department of Transportation and became involved in transportation advocacy in the early 1980s.
“Jim combined personability and kindness and paired it with an intricate and detailed knowledge of transit policy and technical insight,” RPA officials said. “This made him an extremely powerful advocate and an inspiration for others.”