It’s time of the month again for the latest updates for BNSF trackwork around the Pacific Northwest. If you are new to this type of post, this covers news for Sounder, Amtrak, BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads and covers passenger rail throughout the Pacific Northwest.
In Part I I’ll discuss all the work North of Downtown Seattle.
Blaine: BNSF and WSDOT finished the new Blaine Customs Siding and related construction several months in advance. This project will allow for faster and more reliable Amtrak Cascades trains and less delays as freight trains are inspected.
More after the jump.
Mt. Vernon: Washington Utilities and Transportation Committee has approved the closure of Hickox Road. This will allow the extension of Mt. Vernon Siding. Locals say this is a poor decision because it will add time for emergency services. The crossing will not be closed until BNSF finds additional funding to build the siding. The project is currently slightly over $1 million over budget due to modifications to the design.
Stanwood: Stanwood Station is scheduled to be completed on November 11th with a grand opening celebration to follow. WSDOT will post information on the opening day and the festivities once some operational items with BNSF are resolved.
Everett: Grading work for the Delta Yard expansion is completed and track and signal work will begin later this year. This project will increase the capacity of Delta Yard and support future full length coal trains and longer manifest freight trains, leaving the sidings between Everett and Blaine clear of stored trains. This will also allow for faster Amtrak Cascades trains and better movement of freight in and around the Everett region.
Mukilteo: As some people may be aware, WSDOT stripped funding for several Washington State Ferry projects throughout the region. While the new ferries are badly needed, the future multi-modal stations are now mostly on hold due to the funding being reallocated to other projects. This project would have fully built out a new bus area, moved the terminal closer to where the Sounder Station is, added a new slip, and a new expanded waiting area for cars and trucks. Sound Transit however will continue with phase 2 of station construction with the second platform and pedestrian overpass. ST is currently waiting on property transactions, which are currently out of their control, to take place within the tank farm area. This must be completed before Phase II begins.
Edmonds: Sound Transit will begin work on the permanent Edmonds Station next year. The City of Edmonds recommended Sound Transit move forward with the project after WSDOT reallocated funding for the full multi-modal project to various other “higher priority” projects. Final design for Edmonds Station will be completed in December with the first part of the construction to start in Spring 2010. With the uncertainly of the double track project, only the Western half of the platform will be constructed. After the double tracking is completed, the Eastern half of the platform will be completed.
Magnolia: The BNSF Commuter Construction crews are continuing to work steadily in Magnolia at BNSF’s Interbay Yard. This project adds double track between Galar Street and 23rd Avenue. On Saturday, October 24, 2009, BNSF connected the new main track to 23rd Avenue cross overs (also known as a control point or C.P.) With this connection completed, BNSF will spend the next three to five weeks reconfiguring the “ladder” tracks that once connected the A-Apple and B-Baker tracks. The old main will be re-laid and will complete the double track project. The completion of this project adds nearly 10 to 20 additional trains when combined with the already completed project at Milepost 7 and 8. Passenger trains will increase to 60mph from 40mph.
With the upcoming completion of Interbay, the Commuter Construction crew may be abolished unless additional funds are secured from Sound Transit. Grading for Milepost 27-28 is still on schedule for 2010 and Edmonds has permitting until 2012. The additional crossovers that were to be installed are also in limbo, pending funding shortages.
Amtrak Cascades News: British Columbia and Washington State are currently looking at starting a third train. Contrary to what was believed to be funding available for a third train for FY09-11, there is not any available at this time. British Columbia would like to have 6 daily trains by 2016. According to WSDOT’s Long Range Plan, this would serve nearly 900,000 passengers a year, if the ridership is there. Currently, the extended train has been averaging 60 passengers a train on weekdays and roughly 100 passengers a train on weekends which are both climbing as promotions are made and more advertising is made. I have been informed that talks are underway with BNSF to get the prerequisites on what will be required to start this additional train. Unlike the prior incident with the Canadian Border Services, this may be a mid-day train which would in turn replace Thruway coach # 8900, a scheduled 1pm departure from Seattle. With it being a mid-day train, the issue with “lack of staffing” should be a non-issue.
Tomorrow: projects South of Seattle.