Sound Transit signs agreements with state, Amtrak to improve passenger rail service
Transit agency will administer track and signal upgrades on south rail line for future use by Amtrak
Sound Transit's history of partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation grew today under agreements the Sound Transit Board approved to help implement improvements to Amtrak passenger rail service between Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, B.C.
Under contract, Sound Transit will manage construction activities that enable WSDOT to improve speed and reliability by moving Amtrak service through Pierce County to a more direct and less congested track that Sound Transit owns near I-5 rather than along the Puget Sound shoreline. Sound Transit will administer all necessary track improvements for WSDOT's Point Defiance Bypass project between Nisqually and Tacoma, a role that will minimize impacts to Sounder commuter rail service and help complete the work efficiently.
The agreements outline WSDOT's coverage of all capital costs for the bypass project while providing Sound Transit up to $34 million in federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funding toward its recently-completed D to M Street track and signal improvements project. Starting in 2017, the investments, which supported the recent extension of Sounder commuter rail service to South Tacoma and Lakewood, will also benefit Amtrak passengers. The agreements also establish parameters for the operations of Sounder and Amtrak trains on the corridor and for Sound Transit's maintenance of the tracks.