Inside Opinion

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Tag: point defiance bypass

March
7th

Lawmakers should intervene in rail dispute

Map shows Point Defiance Bypass route adjacent to I-5. (WSDOT)
Map shows Point Defiance Bypass route adjacent to I-5. (WSDOT)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

A decision by the Federal Railroad Administration on the controversial Point Defiance Bypass is great for Amtrak. But it could be an economic blow to the future of several South Sound communities and add to the transportation nightmare thousands of commuters already face every day.

And it’s all to shave a few minutes off of Amtrak trains’ time between Seattle and Portland, and run a few more trains on that route. That’s an unacceptable tradeoff.

On Monday, the FRA gave the go-ahead to the $89 million bypass project that would reroute Amtrak trains from along the Puget Sound shoreline through South Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont. A three-year study found that the project – which would extend by 3.5 miles the rail line now used by the Sounder train to Lakewood – would not adversely affect the environment.

Perhaps, but sending high-speed trains down tracks that cross at-grade intersections would certainly lead to accidents, huge traffic disruptions and economic impacts, especially to Read more »

Aug.
23rd

‘We Can’t Wait’ for rail bypass? Job 1 is to make it safe

Red line shows new inland route for Amtrak trains if the Point Defiance Bypass is completed. Freight trains will continue along the shoreline. (USGS)

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Maybe the Obama administration can’t wait to get started on the Point Defiance Bypass rail project. But South Sound communities that would feel the brunt of increased train traffic aren’t in a big hurry.

Under the president’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, the administration is freeing up $473 million in unspent appropriations to expedite four construction projects – one of them being the $90 million bypass. Getting that federal money for the project is expected to move its timeline up about six months, with the state Department of Transportation hoping to begin construction in 2015.

The bypass – which would separate freight and passenger trains as they move through the South Sound – has long been on the wish list for Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Amtrak. It would allow freight trains to continue traveling along the scenic waterfront while rerouting high-speed Amtrak passenger trains inland – through not-so-scenic business districts in South Tacoma and Lakewood and on through DuPont. Read more »