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Rail Monthly Update

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 November 2014 – in review

In this issue:
• King Street Station wins national award
• ARRA-funded high-speed rail improvements program highlights – Point Defiance Bypass
• WSDOT hosts Freighthouse Square Station public meeting on preliminary design
• National committee accepts Amtrak’s five-year Capital Investment Program (CIP)
• Amtrak Cascades expands Seattle/Portland service during Thanksgiving weekend
• Companion fare coupons offer incentive for new customers

King Street Station wins national award
The restoration of Seattle's historic King Street Station was nationally honored Nov. 13 at Savannah, Georgia. The restoration received a National Preservation Honor Award, one of the Richard H. Driehaus National Preservation Awards. The honor lauds the restoration. It also notes how the station established a transportation hub and served as "a catalyst for redevelopment within the community.” WSDOT is listed as a co-recipient along with the City of Seattle and other funding partners.

ARRA-funded high-speed rail improvements program highlights – Point Defiance Bypass
WSDOT received FRA final design approval on “Tract A”, Nisqually crossover, which allows that portion of the Point Defiance Bypass project to move to construction. FRA also approved the NEPA to replace the Clover Creek bridge and rehabilitate the Pendleton bridge and bridges on northbound and southbound Interstate 5. The bridge project is moving into preliminary engineering. At Freighthouse Square in Tacoma, WSDOT real estate services staff are meeting with the building owner to begin negotiations for the new Amtrak station. Soil testing to check for contamination and foundation depths will begin soon. An Open House for Sound Transit’s Trestle project near Freighthouse Square took place Nov. 13, and design work is moving forward for the second platform at the station. The overall project reroutes Amtrak trains from a congested line and improves passenger train schedule reliability.

WSDOT hosts Freighthouse Square Station public meeting on preliminary design
WSDOT shared the preferred design concept for Tacoma’s new passenger rail station at the Oct. 30 public meeting. About 60 people attended the event, representing Tacoma’s citizen advisory committee (CAC), Tacoma Dome District, city council, businesses, residents and rail passengers. City Council Member Robert Thoms gave opening remarks, followed by a presentation by the WSDOT design team on the background of the rail improvements and the preferred preliminary design. During the second half of the meeting, the attendees met with WSDOT design team members at various display boards featuring elements of the new passenger rail station. Next step is preliminary engineering submittal to the FRA for review and approval. The community outreach is being developed for the final engineering phase.

National committee accepts Amtrak’s five-year Capital Investment Program (CIP)
A national committee comprised of Amtrak, FRA and various states, accepted the first annual edition of Amtrak’s CIP. This plan provides backup for the capital use charge regarding overhauls of Amtrak-owned locomotives, passenger cars and cab cars. The CIP includes credits to states for Amtrak equipment not in a state of good repair prior to October 2013, which is the date when states became financially responsible for their routes. It also includes a forecast of equipment needs over the next five years, projected equipment overhauls to be completed by Amtrak, and process to reconcile planned expenditures with actual costs. WSDOT’s Rail Division Director is chairing the working group, which will lead the next update with Amtrak, state officials, FRA and AASHTO.

Amtrak Cascades expands Seattle/Portland service during Thanksgiving weekend
On two of the busiest travel days of the year, WSDOT will offer two additional Amtrak Cascades train trips between Seattle and Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and Sunday, Nov. 30:

  • Train 511 departs Seattle at 12:30 p.m. and arrives in Portland at 4:45 p.m.
  • Train 514 departs Portland at 5:45 p.m. and arrives in Seattle at 10 p.m.

Advanced reservations are required at http://www.amtrakcascades.com/.

Companion fare coupons offer incentive for new customers
The coupons create an incentive for people who have never ridden the train before to give it a try. The coupons offer “Buy One Get One Half Off” on Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays from October 2104 through March 2015. The days are limited to protect against revenue dilution since states are now wholly responsible for operating costs. Coupons are distributed through the Washington Wheel Options program, PCC Natural Markets, and senior centers.


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