Federal Railroad Administration, WSDOT and Seattle kick off next phase of King Street Station restoration
Federal, state and local officials got a behind the scenes tour today, March 15, of recently completed King Street Station improvements as they kicked off the next phase of the station’s ongoing historic restoration.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is investing $16.7 million of federal high-speed rail funds to strengthen King Street Station and its clock tower to better withstand earthquakes. The project also restores the station’s main hall as originally built in 1906 with white marble walls, decorative lighting and other features removed during “modernization” of the station more than 50 years ago.
The kick-off event celebrates the seismic upgrade, the first of five federally-funded capital rail projects under construction in 2012.
“A world-class transportation network is the foundation of America’s economic success,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “These investments create American jobs, make the regional economy stronger and produce a more efficient transportation system that’s better for consumers and the environment. The success of high performance rail in the Pacific Northwest is achievable because of the partnerships we enjoy with the states of Washington and Oregon.”
This $22.7 million project is the largest facet of the multi-phase restoration, and is expected to generate more than 100 jobs over a two-year period. The restoration, managed by the city of Seattle, is an ongoing partnership between WSDOT, FRA, Amtrak, Federal Transit Administration, 4Culture services agency and the city. Since 2008, nearly $30 million in federal, state and local funding has been invested to improve the station and restore its unique historic character.
“Updating and expanding the station adds to the comfort and convenience of travelers, and those are tangible benefits that encourage more people to take the train,” said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary. “The improvements coming from these federal rail grants will help us offer more reliable, hassle-free travel option as the Amtrak Cascades service continues to grow.”
The King Street Station is the busiest train station in the Pacific Northwest and had a banner year in 2011 when it served more than a half-million Amtrak Cascades passengers. With a growing demand for rail travel, King Street Station is quickly becoming key access point for travelers. The project will improve space and amenities while upgrading electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to better meet the public’s needs.
Because the popular station will be in full operation during the renovations, WSDOT and Amtrak are working closely with the city to minimize disruptions to travelers.
“King Street Station is the gateway to the Pacific Northwest. This project - combined with hundreds of millions in new federal funding for intercity rail - will bring us closer to Vancouver, B.C., Portland and beyond, creating economic opportunities for Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Thanks to funding from the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the Washington State Department of Transportation, we are making needed improvements to this iconic Seattle rail station. The city’s success in rehabilitating King Street Station is due to a partnership that reaches across communities and agencies.”
Since 2009, Washington has received nearly $800 million in federal high-speed rail funds to increase the frequency and reliability of Amtrak Cascades passenger rail service between Portland and Vancouver, B.C. This continuing investment in passenger rail creates jobs and supports 20 projects along the 300-mile corridor in Washington, resulting in additional round trips, improved on-time performance, and reduced conflicts between passenger and freight trains. Improvements to track, safety systems, train equipment, and stations will reduce travel times, increase train frequency, and improve safety and reliability.
WSDOT is also investing $50.4 million of its federal high speed rail funding to add a series of yard tracks and upgrade train platforms to create better connections between the station, BNSF Railway mainline tracks, and the new Seattle maintenance facility.