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Feds, railroad and state reach agreement on improvements to rail line from Blaine to Portland

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Feb. 28, 2011 at 11:02 am |
February 28, 2011 11:02 am

The state, the BNSF Railroad and the Federal Rail Administration have signed an agreement that will allow work to begin on $590 million worth of federally-funded improvements to the main north-south rail corridor between Blaine and Portland.

Sen. Patty Murray said the agreement will not only add capacity for passenger and freight trains in the Western Washington rail corridor, it will cut transit time between Seattle and Portland by rail.

“At a time when good-paying construction jobs are not easy to find, this is welcome news for our state,” said Murray. “This agreement means that we can now get moving on a number of job-creating projects that will get freight and Amtrak trains moving more quickly along the I-5 corridor.”

Among the projects partially funded by the federal grant is the Point Defiance Bypass, which will route passenger trains through South Tacoma and Lakewood to avoid the bottleneck of the single-track Nelson Bennett tunnel under Point Defiance and to cut the distance between Tacoma and Portland.

The improvements, which include additional sidings, track and signal improvements, will allow Amtrak to operate additional trains in the corridor and will improve on-time record of the Cascades train operations now operating.

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