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Sound Transit is implementing "strict safety measures" as passenger-rail service relaunches this week on the Point Defiance Bypass, the agency's chief safety officer announced yesterday.
Amtrak Cascades service began yesterday on the bypass for the first time since a 2017 derailment killed three people and injured 65.
Sound Transit approved the service's relaunch once stringent qualifications were met, Chief Safety Officer David Wright said in a press release. Those safety qualifications include:• Amtrak and all passenger-rail agencies in the region now utilize positive train control (PTC), which was not in operation on the bypass at the time of the derailment.• Any train that is not under active PTC monitoring is limited to 30 mph over Sound Transit owned track.• Leading into the curve where the December 2017 incident occurred, Sound Transit instituted step-down speed limits (from 79 mph to 50 mph to 30 mph), with additional signage.• Sound Transit instituted a “focus zone” in the railroad timetable that crews must follow when operating on the bypass. The timetable requires train crews to verbally note the speed step-down to each other.
"Sound Transit has also exercised rigorous oversight of Amtrak’s crew qualifications, which included Amtrak’s training of engineers and supervisors on a simulator of the Point Defiance Bypass territory,” said Sound Transit Wright said. "Engineers were required to complete six round trips on the territory and Amtrak conducted service to simulate actual operating conditions on the bypass."
Meanwhile, Sound Transit's board this week approved a transit-oriented development plan across 7 acres in Bellevue, Washington, valued at more than $500 million.
BRIDGE Housing will be developing the project located adjacent to the recently completed Sound Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility East. The project aims to integrate the facility into the city's plans in light of the rapidly developing Bel-Red Corridor. Plans for the site include affordable housing, offices, retail and public spaces. The development will be located across from the Spring District/120th Link light-rail station, which is set to open in 2023.