Testing of the new Point Defiance Bypass signals and tracks, which began earlier this year, concludes on the weekend of Feb. 25-26. Over this weekend, trains will be traveling at their fastest speeds of up to 79 mph between the Tacoma Dome Station and Nisqually, including the tracks that parallel Interstate 5 from South Tacoma, through Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis McChord and DuPont.
WSDOT wants to ensure you stay safe during this testing, so remember:
- Trains will be traveling at speeds up to 79 mph
- Trains may come from either direction, day or night
- Wait for crossing arms to go up and/or lights to stop flashing before proceeding
- Obey all signals at all times (pedestrians and vehicles)
- Do not walk on or near the tracks
- If police or flaggers are present, follow their directions
View the safety video.
Train Track and Signal Testing in your area mid-January through February 2017 - View the poster to get more information - English (pdf 1 mb), Spanish (pdf 685 kb) or Korean (pdf 464 kb).
Two Phases of Testing
Track Stabilization – The first phase of testing starts in mid-January to stabilize the track before moving forward with signal testing and commissioning work.
As the owner of this section of railroad, Sound Transit will run Tacoma Rail freight trains up and down the alignment at speeds up to 40 mph to ensure all new ballast and rails are stable and able to handle trains traveling at specific speeds.
Testing and Certification – The second phase of testing begins in February 2017. Amtrak trains will test the tracks and signals at speeds up to 79 mph between sunrise and sunset on weekends and during non-commuter hours on weekdays. Intersections being tested include Clover Creek Drive, North Thorne Lane, Berkeley Street, 41st Division Drive, and Barksdale Avenue (Steilacoom-DuPont Road), as well as all intersections currently on the Sounder line between the Tacoma Dome and Lakewood stations. These intersections will not be closed to traffic, but there may be delays to allow the trains to pass at varying speeds.
New Service Starts Fall 2017
There will be several months following the certification before passenger trains begin using this route on a daily basis. The Point Defiance Bypass will be in full operation in the fall 2017, when the new Tacoma Amtrak Cascades station opens at Freighthouse Square. At that time, passenger rail service will be expanded to six round-trip Amtrak Cascades trains and one roundtrip Coast Starlight train each day. The average crossing time at intersections will be 45 seconds, with speeds up to 79 mph.
The new fall 2017 service will continue to stop in the existing 18 Amtrak Cascades cities - though the Tacoma stop will be at the new station once that opens:
- Vancouver British Columbia
- Mount Vernon
- Vancouver, WA
- Oregon City