This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
It’s understandable that state officials are hot to get their hands on a share of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money available for rail projects.
The quest for federal dollars is why a plan to separate freight and passenger trains through the South Sound – one that originally wasn’t going to be funded until about 2019 – is being fast-tracked, so to speak.
That’s a serious concern for the cities that will bear the brunt of the impacts when 14 Amtrak trains a day start traveling at 79 mph through several busy intersections.
The plan is for those trains, which now take the Point Defiance route, to be rerouted through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, chopping all of six minutes off the Seattle-to-Portland trip and leaving the scenic route to freight trains. The state, which will get nearly $600 million for its Seattle-to-Vancouver corridor, could begin construction on the bypass this fall.
Lakewood stands to get the worst of the impacts, with seven different intersections affected – most of them paralleling the busy South Tacoma Way/Pacific Highway South corridor. That city’s officials have been vocal in trying to get the state to at least modify the rail plan to increase safety measures with overpasses, and now DuPont has joined the fight. It only has one crossing, near Fort Lewis, but it’s already a busy one even without the holdups involved with 14 trains barreling through. Read more »