Sound Transit breaks ground on modern railroad trestle in Tacoma to replace 100-year-old bridge
Double-track concrete bridge will support more Sounder, Amtrak trains, reduce delays in heavily-used rail corridor
Sound Transit today broke ground on its Tacoma Trestle Track & Signal Project, which will replace an aging single-track timber railroad trestle with a concrete, double-track bridge. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, state Rep. Jake Fey, Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine, Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, and Boardmember Pat McCarthy attended the event.
"I strongly support investments in our nation's transportation infrastructure, to make our roads, rails, and public transit safer, more efficient and to help meet the demands of a 21st century economy," said Sen. Murray. "I'm proud to play a part in securing federal investments that give communities the extra bump that helps get projects, like the Tacoma Trestle replacement, over the finish line – and am so glad to have great advocates at the local level to work alongside."
"More than a century ago, this timber trestle helped establish Tacoma's regional significance in commerce and transportation," says Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. "Replacing it with a modern, double-track bridge will improve efficiency and decrease delays as more trains and people move through this busy rail corridor."
"The Dome District has been shaped by 100 years of railroading industry and today serves as a major regional transportation hub," said Sound Transit Boardmember and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "The new bridge will support a robust transit system and help shape the District as a vibrant neighborhood where people live, work and play."
The $120.5 million Tacoma Trestle Track and Signal Project, scheduled for completion in 2018, will replace the timber trestle with a modern double-track concrete structure along a 0.65-mile section of track between the Tacoma Dome Station and East M Street. The project includes demolition of the existing trestle, construction of new tracks and a crossover track, signal upgrades, roadway improvements, utility relocation and erosion control.
Sound Transit is also partnering with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) on a separate project to extend the station platform. When complete, the extension will accommodate longer Amtrak trains when WSDOT redirects its Cascades and Coast Starlight service to an inland route.
Public art for the project will include a porcelain enamel mural by Tacoma artist Jeremy Mangan under the bridge wall along East G Street, and Puyallup Tribe artwork at Freighthouse Square. The new bridge will also feature the Milwaukee Railroad historic logo to commemorate the 100-year history of the original trestle.
Voters approved the Tacoma Trestle project in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 (ST2) ballot measure. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to Sound Transit to advance final design and construction of the project. The grant enabled Sound Transit to complete the project five years earlier than planned. An additional $17 million dollars in Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration grants also support the project.
Sounder began operating from Tacoma to Seattle in 2000, with service from Lakewood beginning in 2012. Ridership on the popular commuter rail line saw record ridership growth in the first quarter, with 15 percent more south line boardings compared to the same period last year.
The trestle currently serves 10 roundtrip Sounder south line weekday trains and special game day trains for select Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders FC events. In the 2008 ST2 ballot measure, voters approved four additional Sounder roundtrips on the south line. The first of these began operating in 2013. A mid-day train will start this September and two peak-service trains will begin operating in 2017.
Train service in the corridor will remain active throughout construction.
More information about the Tacoma Trestle Project is available at soundtransit.org/tacomatrestle.