OLYMPIA – Rail travelers using Seattle’s historic King Street Station, grand and ornate when it opened in 1906, will be transported back to that era when seismic and utility upgrades and historic restoration work are complete in two years.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration signed agreements today, Nov. 21, securing $16.7 million in federal high-speed-rail funds to support the next phase of the King Street Station restoration project. The station is the busiest in the Pacific Northwest, serving nearly half a million Amtrak Cascades passengers in 2010.
The investment will strengthen King Street Station and its clock tower to better withstand earthquakes, as well as restore the historical features of the station’s main hall and upgrade electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to modern standards. To restore the main hall to its original grandeur, the building’s white marble walls, decorative lighting and other features removed during “modernization” of the station more than 50 years ago will be rehabilitated or replaced, where possible. Also, improvements to both the Jackson Street and King Street entrances will significantly improve the public’s access to the station.
“With America’s population set to grow by 100 million over the next 40 years, passenger rail will play a vital role in meeting America’s long-term transportation challenges,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Projects like these critical upgrades to historic King Street Station will employ local workers, make it easier for passengers to reach their destinations safely and quickly, and lay a strong foundation for future economic growth.”
Since 2008, nearly $30 million in federal, state and local funding has been invested in previous restoration and improvements to bring back the station’s historic character. This includes replacing the station’s roof with historically accurate terra-cotta tiles, repairs to the four tower clocks to make them operational and a more pedestrian friendly Jackson Street plaza. The city is using current sustainability practices wherever possible, adhering to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria.
“Passenger stations are an important part of the travel experience and act as the gateway to communities served throughout the Northwest Cascades corridor,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “These upgrades and this restoration will make King Street Station a more modern facility while protecting its historic character, and that’s a key step toward improving and expanding rail service between Portland and Vancouver, B.C.”
The ongoing effort at King Street Station is a partnership between WSDOT, FRA, Amtrak, Federal Transit Administration and the city of Seattle.
The newest project, managed by the city of Seattle, is expected to start in early 2012 and support more than 100 jobs over a two-year period. Since the station will be in full operation during this renovation, WSDOT and the city are coordinating closely to minimize disruption to customers and the public.
King Street Station, with its grand interior and ornate decorative features, opened in May 1906 with a focus on passengers and their travel experience. The restoration and upgrades will transform the busy and historic station to meet the current and future passenger rail service demand. Amtrak Cascades ridership is steadily growing, carrying nearly 850,000 passengers in 2010 – a 10 percent increase from 2009.
More information about the project is available on the King Street Station restoration Web site. Also, more information is available about WSDOT’s passenger rail projects. Visit www.AmtrakCascades.com for more information about Amtrak Cascades service.