The DJC is reporting that the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle are going after stimulus cash for rail projects along the I-5 corridor that should help ease freight congestion along the BNSF line. These would also ease congestion and increase on-time performance for Amtrak Cascades. The four projects they want money for are:
- Building a third mainline and storage track bretween Kelso and Martin’s Bluff. There’s only $53 million of state money currently set aside for this project but it is estimated at more than five times that.
- Completing the Point Defiance bypass, which would shave a lot of time off of Amtrak Cascades and have a big impact on its on-time performance.
- Building the Vancouver bypass, which would let Cascades bypass the heavily congested rail yard in Vancouver.
- Improving the Blakeslee Junction, which is where the BNSF line meets the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad in Centralia. This has a bigger effect on freight and cars than on Amtrak, but congestion there is a problem for Amtrak as well.
These do seem like good projects for stimulus money if they can reduce congestion for both freight trains and Amtrak service.