Old Seattle train stations, unknown era - Vintage Seattle
Old Seattle train stations, unknown era - Vintage Seattle

Continuing yesterday’s article with projects South of Downtown.

Seattle: I may have been seeing things this morning but it appears the the King Street Station clock has stopped working. I’ll e-mail the City of Seattle on Monday if it appears that way.

Construction bids for the new Seattle Amtrak Maintenance Facility seem to be slow. So far, only McGraw-Hill Construction appears to be the only bidder Construction is estimated to take 36 to 40 months. This would provide about 382 jobs according to Recovery.org. More below the jump.

Kent/Puyallup: Two overpasses will open up this year. South 228th Street in Kent and Shaw Rd in Puyallup, both, will cross over the BNSF mainline. There is currently more than $170 million dollars in grade separation projects for the Kent area alone however there is no funding available for the projects.

Construction for an expanded Puyallup Station parking is progressing nicely  and should open soon. This will add more than 200 parking spots at the “Red Lot” on the Puyallup Fair Grounds. Passengers will use the ST/PT Route 495 to shuttle them between the parking lot and the Sounder Station. It is also a short walk on those nice sunny warm days that we have here.

Tacoma/Lakewood: WUTC has approved $20,000 in Grade Crossing Protection funds to Tacoma Rail to fence in the old Milwaukee Road Wooden Trestle. The fence is needed as transients frequently loiter and dump garbage beneath the railroad trestle posing security risks and safety hazards.

Sound Transit has updated visuals for D Street to M Street project. This has been hotly debated with a few citizens and businesses whom believe the Post and Beam method will be better suited for future development. The Tacoma City Council pushed an agreement for the berm design instead last week.

Construction on the M Street to Lakewood Segment is progressing very well. RailWorks Inc is currently rebuilding the rail line for future Sounder trains to South Tacoma and Lakewood Stations. Along with track improvements, the 11 grade crossings will be improved with new lights and gates. Train speed will increase from 10mph to 60 to 70mph As far as I know, there are no current plans to make the M Street to Lakewood line 79mph until after Lakewood Station…  A new layover yard for Sounder will be built just North of Lakewood Station. WSDOT’s portion of the line has been pushed back to 2017 unless funding can be secured. Completion of the Point Defiance Bypass is one of the few prerequisites for the 5th Amtrak Cascades round trip.

Tenino: Earlier this year, BNSF completed installation of a new high speed crossover in Tenino, Washington. This is one of many new 50mph crossovers and one of the 3 crossovers required for the 5th Amtrak Cascades round trip.

Vancouver: BNSF is marching on with the Vancouver Rail Bypass. This project is now slightly ahead of schedule thanks to the additional funding allocated by WSDOT. This project should be completed in 2013, including the new 39th Street Overpass over the rail yard.

Amtrak Cascades News: WSDOT will be progressing with upgrades along the BNSF Seattle Subdivision. As mentioned above, there are four prerequisites before the 5th Cascades train can begin. The first being the replacement of the old Milwaukee Road single track bridge to a new double track steel structure, new platform at Freighthouse Square, the Point Defiance Bypass and relocation of Amtrak to Freighthouse Square, and three new cross overs. Tenino was the first to be completed.

WSDOT will upgrade two existing 30mph crossovers to newer 50mph crossovers at Chehalis Jct and Wabash. This leaves Pioneer, Nisqually, Plumb, Centralia South, Napavine South, Vader, Milepost 85, Ostander, Kelso South, Longview Jct South, Milepost 111, Ridgefield South, and Vancouver Jct. North to be upgraded in order to reach continue our increase of passenger trains, among other needed upgrades.

34 Replies to “Passenger Rail Roundup (II): South of Seattle”

  1. I just noticed yesterday that the King St Station clock wasn’t working. I hope it gets fixed soon.

  2. These summaries are great. Sad to see nothing on here for Federal Way, but that’s hardly your fault, right? No point in reporting on the lack of anything happening.

  3. As always, Brian is to be commended for his tireless work to enhance passenger and freight rail in our area. Here are a few thoughts why I think this is so important.
    1. Boeing is not the only company that votes with their feet. Our country will be transitioning in the next few decades to a mostly electric based economy, as peak oil drives fossil fuel ever higher. Airliner routes will be replaced in many areas with HSR corridors, up to 60% in some cases. Intermediate city pairs with HSR will prosper.
    2. Areas with ‘Transportation Vision’, like Seattle and Portland, will continue down the path of providing alternate methods of getting from A to B, via public transit and HSR. Mobility, for work and pleasure is an important measure of what separates desirerable cities from those in urban decay.
    3. The ongoing improvements to our railroad infrastructure is a down payment on a truly HSR corridor running along the Cascades. WA and OR have taken the path of least resistance, working with our host railroads, and now the FRA, to add passenger service, reduce delays, and increase speed.
    4. Most important, identify our HSR network for future generations, and do all we can to preserve those ROW opportunities, and to invest in those projects that compliment that vision.
    Way to go Brian.

    1. That is the hope as the price of gas rises. According to “$20 per Gallon” (an excellent book), air travel will be feasable for only the most important trips; i.e. $1000 coast-to-coast, $2000? to Europe. Families will move to the same region so they can visit grandma for Thansgiving. Trains will replace planes for regional and cross-country travel, and intercontinental passenger ships will return. The airfare problem could happen in as little as 5-10 years, and will take down the “big legacy” airlines which are in a precarious financial situation already.

      The big question is, will the rail infrastructure be ready by then? Washington is ahead of the nation, but not even 10% as far as Britain or Europe. Their rail infrastructure blunted the impact of the current recession, and investing in rail now (in spite of the recession) will position us better for the future.

      But it all revolves around getting the politicians to understand, and shutting up the lobbyists. And that’s where I’m worried. If we wait until we really need the infrastructure to build it, it’ll take 30 years and our budgets may be too squeezed to pay for it.

      1. Are passenger ships really that more fuel efficient based on distance than planes? I’m all for zeppelins for intercontinental traffic myself :)

      2. Not when you figure in the “hotel” costs. There was a recent show on the QM2 that showed what was going on. Even if you tried the Motel 6 approach it would be hard to justify the oceanliner. HSR has to target the 300+/- distance for the next several decades. It’s not like we don’t have at least 20 years of work on the books that would improve freight and passenger rail.

      3. My friend’s family took a cruise on the Seattle-Alaska ferry, which is a cruise ship. The cost was less than $150/day, or less than a hotel and meals. Budget hotels are going for $75 nowadays (Atlanta 2009). It’s hard to find a $50 hotel that isn’t a hooker trap.

        Zeppelins maybe would be more efficient; I don’t know.

        Trains are out until they invent a trans-ocean bridge or tunnel.

      4. That’s like only 30 minutes more than my one-way commute into downtown. If I lived in NYC, I could have lunch and go watch football matches in London and be back for bed!

        Back to ships, did you know you could hitch a ride on a cargo ship to almost any port in the world? It isn’t cheap but it is quite an experience.

  4. Any idea how much time these intermediate improvements will take off of a cascades trip from seattle to portland?

    1. Probably 30 minutes off the current schedule, but the biggest gain comes from system reliablility.
      Right now, trains are ‘on-time’ about 60% due to bottlenecks, signaling, and schedules. That should improve to over 90%, which is just as important as going faster.

  5. The clock now says 7:35… There is yellow plastic around the base of the upper tower. I bet they are doing some work up there and stopped the clock for the safety of the workers.

  6. The King Street Station clock has been stopped by the Seattle Department of Transportation to prepare it for the end of Daylight Saving Time this Sunday. Like everyone else, we are going to “fall back” one hour this weekend. As the station’s clock is a little bigger than most, we just need a little longer to prepare.

  7. FWIW, the picture is likely post September, 1955. I believe the Milwaukee went to UP colors in October ’55 when they got some of the UP trains (from the C&NW)…

    1. I think it may be a bit later than ’55. The Norton Building looks completed in that picture, and that wasn’t opened until 1958

      1. Those fabulous dome cars (similar to those the Great Northern had on the Empire Builder) ended up on Canadian National from the mid-1960s through the late 1970s – I rode in them several times on cross Canada trips while in college and grad school. I read somewhere not too long ago that there are still 2 or 3 of them around.

    2. Andy, I believe that you are correct…I remember discussing the subject with you years ago…

  8. replacement of the old Milwaukee Road single track bridge to a new double track steel structure

    Where is this bridge located?

  9. I am pretty sure the clock is not stopped, but is running about an hour-and-a-half slow. I waited for the bus at 4th & Jackson yesterday from about 4:50 to 5:05 and watched the clock move from about 3:20 to 3:35.

    1. I don’t know, I stared at that picture for like an hour and the clock definitely did not move.

  10. Stanwood station is tentatively scheduled to open November 11th but there are issues with a road crossing that needs to be closed.

  11. Anyone have beter pictures (or better yet a track diagram) of the area double of union station? How many tracks were on the east side of the building? How far north did they go? Were there tracks south of the station under whenever Paul Allen built all those buildings on the site now? The current busway was former UP row I heard, any more info on that?

    Can’t wait till we have a better coach yard and all the construction means a flagged which means more work for everyone.

  12. what happens if/when more tracks need to be added at king street station, same with portland union station? i hope we are not limiting future capacity by redeveloping the land around the station including former rail yards and platforms.

    1. I know of a certain Qwest Field surface parking lot that I wouldn’t mind blowing up to add a few tracks… =)

      1. Convert the parking lot into a structure (or “parking ramp” as they say in the Midwest) and voila: More private property storage on half the space!

        Meanwhile, more capacity to move people in and out of Seattle-King Street.

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