Skip Top Navigation

Project Environmental

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires a project-level Environmental Assessment (EA) under their regulations before ARRA funding can be made available for construction. The EA process examined all the various aspects of this project including impacts on roadway traffic, public safety, impacts on community development plans, and other environmental impacts. 

WSDOT and the FRA completed the EA in early October. WSDOT hosted two meetings where the public could review project study findings, speak with project staff, and view project maps and displays and offer offer official comments.

After reviewing the EA and comments from local municipalities and the public, the FRA determined the Point Defiance Bypass project would not result in significant adverse impacts to the environment and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

WSDOT issued a Determination of Nonsignificance (pdf 55 kb) and SEPA Environmental Checklist (pdf 70 kb) on March 13, 2013.

WSDOT is relying on the NEPA documentation and concurs with the findings contained in the Federal Rail Administration’s decision document. As described in the EA and FRA’s decision document, the project will not significantly harm the environment:

  • The project improves travel time of the Amtrak Cascades service, decreases train delays, and allow more frequent and reliable intercity passenger rail along the corridor.
  • The project improves safety of at-grade crossings and nearby intersections, adding way-side horns, median barriers, sidewalks, pre-signals, and more advanced signal controllers.
  • Upgrades to intersections and signaling would maintain or improve overall traffic flow at existing substandard intersections.
  • Relocating the Tacoma Avenue Amtrak Station to Freighthouse Square would improve multi-modal connections.
  • WSDOT and FRA considered the project’s effects on low-income and minority populations and determined that there is no disproportionately high or adverse effect, and that the project meets the provisions of Executive Order 12898 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

WSDOT’s project team will now advance design work to reroute passenger trains from the BNSF Railway main line near Point Defiance to an existing, and less congested, rail line that travels through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont. WSDOT expects construction to begin in 2015 and open the new route to service in 2017.

The new bypass route is located along an existing, approximately 21-mile lightly used freight corridor owned by Sound Transit. Part of the bypass route is the same route that Sound Transit uses for Sounder commuter rail to Lakewood.

WSDOT continues to consult with local tribes, the cities of Tacoma, DuPont and Lakewood, Pierce County, Camp Murray, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)  (pdf 400 kb)

  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Need
  • Description of Alternatives
  • Summary of Effects
  • Indirect Effects
  • Cumulative Effects
  • Public Involvement
  • Environmental Concerns and Mitigation Measures
  • Errata
  • Conclusions
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures 

List of Appendices (pdf 7.6 mb)
Appendix A: Agency and Public Comments
Appendix B: Summary of Comments and Responses

The updated Environmental Assessment can be opened in sections (below) or in its entirety. Please allow a few minutes for the entire Point Defiance Bypass Environmental Assessment (pdf 63 mb) document to load.

Point Defiance Bypass Environmental Assessment (no appendices) (pdf 4.5 mb) 
Executive Summary
Introduction and Project Area Description 
Purpose and Need
Description of Alternatives Affected Environment and Environmental Consequences
Coordination and Consultation List of Preparers
Abbreviations and Acronyms
List of Tables
List of Figures

Appendix A: Alternatives Analysis (pdf 604 kb)
Appendix B: Grade Separation Concept Evaluation (pdf 10 mb)
Appendix C: Air Quality Discipline Report (pdf 5 mb)
Appendix D: Air Quality Discipline Report Erratum (pdf 1.65 mb)
Appendix E: Noise and Vibration Discipline Report (pdf 11 mb)
Appendix F: Traffic and Transportation Discipline Report (pdf 5 mb)
Appendix G: Railroad Crossing Traffic Effect Analysis at C and D Streets (pdf 295 kb)
Appendix H: Geology and Soils Discipline Report (pdf 4.5 mb)
Appendix I: Water Resources Discipline Report (pdf 463 kb)
Appendix J: Wetlands Discipline Report (pdf 4.8 mb)
Appendix K: Fish, Vegetation, and Wildlife Discipline Report (pdf 350 kb)
Appendix L: Hazardous Materials Discipline Report (pdf 11 mb)
Appendix M: Visual Quality Discipline Report (pdf 1.1 mb)
Appendix N: Socioeconomic and Environmental Justice Discipline Report (pdf 512 kb)
Appendix O: Land Use Discipline Report (pdf 2 mb)
Appendix P: Public Services and Utilities Discipline Report (pdf 876 kb)
Appendix Q: Energy Discipline Report (pdf 217 kb)
Appendix R: Public Outreach (pdf 132 kb)
Appendix S: Agency Correspondence (pdf 1.63 mb)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information
Accommodation requests for people with disabilities can be made by contacting the WSDOT Diversity/ADA Compliance team at or by calling toll free, 855-362-4ADA (4232). Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may make a request by calling the Washington State Relay at 711.

Title VI Statement to Public
WSDOT ensures full compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by prohibiting discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex in the provision of benefits and services resulting from its federally assisted programs and activities. For questions regarding WSDOT's Title VI Program, you may contact the Department's Title VI coordinator at 360-705-7098 or 509-324-6018.