The Federal Railroad Administration recently approved the Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) environmental assessment for the Port Defiance Bypass project.
Now, WSDOT's project team will advance design work for the $89 million project, which calls for rerouting passenger trains from a BNSF Railway Co. mainline near Port Defiance to an 18-mile corridor that travels through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, Wash. The bypass route is less congested than the BNSF line, which currently serves 50 freight and passenger trains daily. Sound Transit owns the bypass route, which is used by Sounder commuter-rail trains.
By rerouting intercity passenger-rail trains, Amtrak can reduce travel times for its Cascades service and add two more daily trips between Seattle and Portland, Ore.
WSDOT plans to begin making upgrades to the bypass tracks in 2015; Amtrak Cascades trains are expected to begin using the route in 2017. The project is being funded through a High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant.
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