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Point Defiance Bypass

Photo of Work at Blaine Crossing

The 14.5-mile Point Defiance Bypass will reroute Amtrak passenger trains to an inland rail line through DuPont, Lakewood and Tacoma. It includes a new Amtrak station in Tacoma's Freighthouse Square. Sound Transit currently uses a portion of the route for Sounder commuter rail service between Tacoma and Lakewood.

Construction of the Point Defiance Bypass, including the new Amtrak passenger train station, is complete; but Amtrak will not use this route until positive train control (PTC) is fully operational. Sound Transit expects to have all way-side PTC equipment functioning by mid-2018 to be ready to interface with Amtrak trains and back-office components when those are complete. The Federal deadline for PTC to be operational across the country is Dec. 31, 2018.

 

Why Reroute the Train?

It's hard to dispute the beauty of the scenic waterfront rout around Point Defiance. But that train route is congested with nearly 50 daily freight trains. As a result, passenger trains often are delayed as they maneuver around freight congestion, tight curves, single-track tunnels, drawbridge openings, and landslides.

For passengers, this means missed connections, delayed appointments, and lost time with family and friends. 

The new inland rail route will create room for Amtrak Cascades to add more daily trips between Seattle and Portland, shorten travel times, and reduce delays.

Track and Signal Work

The Point Defiance Bypass project was funded with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail dollars. It is managed and overseen by the Washington State Department of Transportation's Rail Division. 

WSDOT contracted with Sound Transit to deliver the track and signal work, including: upgrading crossings, bridge rehabilitation and construction, and retaining wall construction.

Traffic Signal Crossings

The project includes safety improvements at five traffic signals that have at-grade railroad crossings, including: 

  • Clover Creek Drive SW
  • North Thorne Lane SW
  • Berkeley Street SW (as part of the city of Lakewood Madigan Access project)
  • 41st Division Drive
  • Barksdale Avenue

Advanced notice will be given of any work affecting traffic and informational signs will be posted at the construction sites.

Notifications and Work Window

The Sound Transit project team's intent is to provide a two-week notice for construction activities. However, during construction some unanticipated and emergency work may be needed, which may result in shorter notification schedules. Sound Transit will actively work with residents, businesses, and jurisdictions to provide:

  • Advance notice of work that requires traffic control
  • Advance notice of nighttime work
  • Presentations to groups
  • Outreach through mailings and personal contacts
  • Updates on the project website
  • Regular email updates through the Sound Transit "Point Defiance Bypass Track Work" email subscription list. 

Work Window

Work will occur primarily on weekends, beginning at midnight on Fridays and ending at 7 a.m. Mondays. However, some work will occur duing weekdays

Questions?

24 hour Track Work construction hotline: 888-298-2395

Track work construction questions: Sound Transit, 206-398-5300

All other project questions: Janet Matkin, WSDOT Rail Division, 360-705-7966