By Melanie G. Coon, Media Relations Manager, Cascades High Speed Rail Program
LAKEWOOD – Residents and community members are invited to learn more about plans to reroute passenger trains from the Point Defiance coastline to an existing rail line in south Tacoma, Lakewood/Tillicum and DuPont.
Currently, the Point Defiance freight route is congested, carrying nearly 50 freight and passenger trains a day. Rerouting the trains is expected to help improve the frequency and reliability of Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service between Seattle and Portland.
A portion of the proposed route is the same as the one that Sound Transit will use to extend Sounder commuter rail to Lakewood.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will share updated proposals for the new route at an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at the Tillicum Community Center in Lakewood. The meeting is an opportunity to learn more about the project, share ideas, speak with project staff, ask questions and provide comments.
If you’re unable to attend the meeting, WSDOT would still like to hear from you. Meeting materials will be available on the project website and questions and comments can be submitted to the project delivery manager David Smelser via 360-705- 6916.
This is just one of many ways WSDOT is actively engaging the community in the $91.6 million Point Defiance Bypass project. Executive level and technical advisory teams from the affected communities are reviewing and evaluating impacts to roadway traffic, public safety, community development plans and other environmental impacts.
Construction will not begin until an Environmental Assessment is completed, which could take up to three years. If the assessment allows plans to move forward to construction, the project could be complete by summer 2015.
Putting passenger rail traffic on its own dedicated track helps free up congested freight rail lines, ultimately improving access to Washington ports and business. Freight train traffic will not increase on this line beyond the minimal amount that utilizes it today.