OLYMPIA – As part of a statewide push to enhance high speed rail transportation, Washington state will receive $31 million in federal funds to improve passenger stations in Seattle and Tukwila and ease rail congestion in Mount Vernon.
When combined with $590 million in federal stimulus funds awarded earlier this year, this latest grant brings Washington’s total funding for high speed rail to $621 million.
"This funding will help create and save good paying jobs as we work to modernize out state's rail infrastructure," said Senator Patty Murray. "In addition to helping commuters get where they're going this investment will also benefit the movement of freight rail in our state that is so critical to our economy."
“Washington is building high-speed rail systems for the future, and creating hundreds of jobs for the present,” said Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire. “We are delivering more reliable and expanded passenger service.”
More than $18.2 million will be spent to seismically retrofit King Street Station in Seattle and its clock tower, as well as restore the station’s main hall and upgrade electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems. This work will transform the busy and historic station and adjacent tracks and platforms to meet current and future needs of expanding intercity and commuter rail service. The effort is a partnership by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Amtrak, the city of Seattle, Sound Transit and BNSF Railway.
The grant also contributes $9 million to Sound Transit’s Tukwila Station project, a new train station for use by Sounder commuter trains and Amtrak Cascades intercity trains. The project converts the existing temporary platform to a modern full-service station.
“Making these improvements will help give passengers the reliable intercity train services that allow them to choose transit over driving, and help us meet our state goals for reducing how much we drive,” Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said.
In Mount Vernon, $3.3 million will be spent to build sidings – passing lanes for trains – to improve speed and reliability for freight and passenger trains. The remaining $400,000 will be spent developing a State Rail Plan integrating freight and passenger service – a move that makes Washington more competitive in winning future rail funding.
This latest round of grants comes from two Federal Railroad Administration programs. A total of $2.4 billion from the 2010 DOT Appropriations Act was made available in August to continue the development of high-speed intercity passenger rail corridors across the country.
Nearly $1 billion in federal, state and local capital and operating funds has been invested in high speed intercity passenger rail in the Pacific Northwest since 1994. This investment has resulted in the state-supported Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service, which has served over six million travelers and provided a valuable alternative to driving. Washington state has invested nearly $331 million.
Learn more about WSDOT’s high speed passenger rail program online.