The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $31.1 million to the State of Washington to improve intercity passenger and freight rail service on the Cascades line.
A highlight of the rail dollars includes:
• Pacific Northwest Corridor – $16.1 million for design, environmental review and construction work to stabilize and improve track structure along the rail line between Blaine, Wash., and the Columbia River Bridge in Vancouver, Wash. The upgrades along this route will increase service reliability by reducing the number of closures and delays due to inclement weather.
• Vancouver-Port Access Rail Improvements – $15 million for construction of a new, rail access route to the Port of Vancouver, including grade separation at an existing rail crossing which has acted as a significant choke point for rail traffic. This enhancement will substantially minimize delays affecting freight trains and Amtrak’s Cascades service.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and the Port of Vancouver are contributing a combined total of $22 million to this project. Construction is expected to begin in July 2012.
Amtrak’s Cascades Service is one of its faster growing routes. Ridership grew 10 percent in 2010 to 838,251 passengers, and is trending to break that record in 2011.