A mudslide has halted Sounder North and Amtrak Cascades service. Sound Transit’s website has been updated to reflect that the following Sounder trains are canceled:

  • Tuesday, Jan 19 for the afternoon commute
  • Wednesday, Jan 20, for the entire day
  • Thursday, Jan 21 for the morning commute only

Alternative bus options are available at the Sound Transit site.

38 Replies to “Alert: Mudslide Affects Sounder North Service”

  1. Not a good couple weeks for Northbound service. glad i’m in training and not on the road dealing with this.

  2. Damn unstable hillsides. Ruined many a good commute for me in the past. Unfortunately, the cost to stabilize all those hillsides is significantly higher than the benefit of doing so.

      1. thanks for that link. awesome pics.

        and theres an anti-rail, pro-bus/road troll on that comment thread as well. probably our very own “blue swan”

  3. This is why we should replace all RapidRide bus service with trains.

    Because trains only have one access way and when it gets blocked all service is stopped.

    But with buses you can keep going.

    That’s why trains are so superior. I love trains. See…I’m not trolling. Trains are better than buses.


    1. Blue Swan,

      No one is proposing we get rid of RapidRide, though of course at present there isn’t even any to get rid of.

      1. Well yeah, I think pretty much all rail enthusiasts here are advocating for the replacement of those corridors with Link.
        But in any case, the hundreds of riders of the Sounder North line will fill up dozens of buses, which will probably end up costing a lot more than when Sounder is running.

      1. My proposal is that all highway buses get rotating red and blue lights like ambulances and cars have to move aside by law.

      2. The purpose of our work here is to support options for folks. not everyone likes to take buses and not everyone likes trains. Most of us here like both, but whichever, buses and trains both function differently and serve their constituencies differently, have separate and overlapping fan bases, but we have discussed this so often now that it is not worth my time explaining it all – I need to make dinner! Someone else, I am sure will bring you up to speed on the merits of rail vs. buses.

      3. Better yet, lets put reserved parking spaces for the Magnolia Community Club on the shoulders.

    2. I think you are missing the point here – we should be spending more attention on shoring up these slopes, not getting rid of the rails they block.

      1. … and/or building covers so that any mudslides slide over the cover and miss the trains. In the long run, I wonder if a stacked line is out of the question.

  4. We have this problem each winter. We also have this problem that the BNSF gets itself back on the tracks way before they allow Sounder and Amtrak trains through!

    Brian can probably let us know what plans if any there are to shore up the slopes. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen during the Olympics.

  5. Given that BNSF owns the tracks, cleans the mudslide, and resumes their profitable freight hauling business, then if the mudslide occurs because of unstable property outside of their ROW, what is their recourse?

    In other words, if I live on a hillside, and my land slides onto someone else’s property, is it the ‘uphill’ landowner’s responsibility to keep that from happening?

    The question is, who owns the property that slid?


    1. that’s a great question. i wonder if anyone here would have the answer to that.

      so as i thought the empire builder ran light to everett and went in service there. only dinged em for a 30 minute delay. not bad.

      1. this is not any sort of official answer but usually they just bus the whole way. they might have an “express” bus seattle to vancouver and then one doing all the stops. especially if its midweek and the number of passengers is low.

      2. The right of way BNSF owns doesn’t extend up to the top of the hillsides above the tracks. The slopes have been sliding historically forever, slowed now only by the buttressing of the tracks below and occasional up slope stabilization.

        Unless an uphill owner is negligent in clearing or dealing with drainage (I have first hand experience with development up hill and I’ve not found an owner yet that has any desire for their hillside to slide), I suspect that the railroad is on the hook to clear their tracks.

        The solution to eliminate the slide risk is probably to push the tracks out over the water edge on a structure so that the slides could run under the tracks onto the beach like they did before the rails were in place.

      3. I’ve seen plenty of owners who had no problem totally cutting any and all large vegetation from the slope. Perhaps they didn’t ‘want the property to slide’, but they sure were doing plenty to make it more likely to happen.

      4. Most geotech’s will recommend cutting down trees on unstable slopes, retaining the stumps and roots that hold the hillside in place…for a while until they rot away because the tree above is gone.

        The better answer is to thin the trees to reduce their sail area (so they don’t rock too much and loosen the soil).

        Human nature is to want to see the view of the water, fighting that to the extreme is, and arguably should be, a futile battle.

      5. Hey, I’ve heard that in the South, they found a great low-lying ground cover ideal for hill stabilization.

        It was imported just for that purpose…

        KUDZU !!!

        Okay, so we know THAT’S NOT THE ANSWER, but I’ve heard that ferns are good soil stabilization plants, do Rhodadendrons have the same ‘robustness’ below ground as they do above ground? (I haven’t tried to rip mine out yet, only above ground nuclear assault has been attempted)

        Can a landowner, via some mechanical drainage system (French drains, etc.), alleviate this problem, or 1) is it cost prohibitive or 2) does it create even more problems (bigger mass of dryer earth above wet)?


  6. Gus Melonas, spokesman for BNSF, said a tree was reported leaning onto the tracks near Seattle’s Carkeek Park at about 7:30 a.m., an indication the soil was unstable.

    Near Carkeek Park.

    Of course, they wouldn’t really say “A slide came down from Joe Johnson’s property onto the BNSF tracks today”.

    Nobody would have a clue, unless he was famous.

    1. Please, folks, remember in all discussions about infrastructure, higher speed services, route relocations or whatever, the we are dealing with a (now) privately owned entity that, in our “Private Property IS God” culture can pretty mucvh say and do what it wants. The agreements with Amtrak and ST to operate trains over this opriveat ROW are I am sure comp;licated and convoluted – not te mention the nature of our weather and topography.

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