The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) this week announced it will conduct a project level Environmental Assessment (EA) of the $91 million Point Defiance Bypass project, working closely with other agency and community stakeholders.
To ensure meaningful engagement and to maintain steady progress on the project, WSDOT has invited key stakeholders and municipalities within the project area to be part of an advisory team that will provide input and review of the updated studies specifically focusing on potential traffic impacts. WSDOT will also seek public comment during the EA process.
The Point Defiance Bypass Project reroutes passenger trains to an existing rail line along the west side of I-5 through south Tacoma, Lakewood, and DuPont. Currently, passenger trains share the freight route along the coastline around Point Defiance. The completed project aims to provide more frequent and reliable passenger rail service between Seattle and Portland and free up the congested freight rail line, ultimately improving access to Washington ports and business.
Earlier this year, WSDOT received $590 million in High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant funding to accomplish a series of passenger rail service improvements along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor. The grant funding was part of $8 billion made available through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The passenger rail grants are administered by the Federal Railroad Administration.
The advisory team includes representatives from WSDOT, Sound Transit, Pierce County, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the cities of Lakewood and DuPont. The team will meet regularly to review and comment on updates to environmental work and analyses produced by the project team. This structure supports coordinated decision-making between the agencies and provides multiple opportunities and resources to identify and resolve potential roadblocks.
WSDOT will use this EA to address any changes since the prior analysis, initiated in 2006 with a different federal lead agency, the Federal Highway Administration. This environmental update will be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration and will identify and evaluate potential key environmental impacts resulting from rerouting passenger trains between Seattle and Portland.
WSDOT invites the public to learn more about this project at an open house Mon., May 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood. People who attend the open house can gain information on details of the project, speak with project staff and ask questions or provide comments about the project.
Washington, Oregon and the Canadian Province of British Columbia are continuing to work together on a long-term plan to improve and grow the Amtrak Cascades service and provide more reliable passenger rail travel between Eugene, OR and Vancouver BC. Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak in partnership with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. For more information about the Point Defiance Bypass project visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/rail/pnwrc_ptdefiance/ .