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Rail - Corridor Reliability Supplemental Work

project is in construction
Pacific NW Corridor map

Landslide photos - see full size
thumbnail photo of mudslide under TNB

Crews work to stabilize bluffs and reduce the slope.

Crews install a retention wall to stop landslide debris from covering rail lines.


March 2015

  • The federally funded program for passenger rail improvements includes six slope stabilization projects shown in this map (pdf 1mb). Two projects were constructed in 2014 and four projects are being designed.
  • WSDOT and BSNF are working together on prevention/repair strategies like retaining walls, improved drainage systems and erosion control. This blog provides more information.
  • WSDOT continues to lead the Landslide Mitigation Working Group, collaborating with representatives from 17 agencies and companies over the past two years. The group developed the Landslide Mitigation Action Plan (pdf 2mb), addressing root causes of landslides and finding potential solutions for landslide-prone areas along the rail line, and a landslide prevention informational brochure (pdf 340 kb). for property owners.

WSDOT is taking several steps to help prevent landslides – and train service disruptions – along the Amtrak Cascades corridor for passenger rail service, including:

  • Forming the Landslide Mitigation Work Group, which includes BNSF Railway Company, Sound Transit, Amtrak, and several municipal and state agencies.
  • Researching landslide causes and locations to identify high-risk areas along the rail corridor.
  •  Participating in community engagement events in Edmonds, Mukilteo and Everett.
  • Mailing information and prevention tips to all property owners along the rail line from Seattle to Everett.
  • Using federal funds to design six slope stabilization projects, two of which have been constructed. Work includes:
    • Retaining walls to catch landslide debris before it hits the tracks
    • Slide detection fences to give early warnings of active landslides
    • Improved drainage systems
    • Erosion control

Why is WSDOT working to increase the reliability of Washington's rail corridor?
Amtrak Cascades carried approximately 232,000 passengers in 2014 between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Sometimes during the rainy season, service is disrupted by landslides along the northern rail line. After each such landslide, passenger trains are halted for 48 hours while tracks are cleared and verified for safety for passenger trains and nearby slopes are evaluated.

Washington state received $16.1 million in federal funding to identify, design and construct slope stabilization projects along tracks from Vancouver, Washington to the Canadian border. Based on geotechnical investigations and historical data on landslides, the federally funded landslide mitigation effort for the passenger rail line focuses on the area between Seattle and Everett.

The End Result
The slope stabilization projects will reduce passenger train disruptions due to landslides and improve on-time performance for Amtrak Cascades trains.

Project Benefits

  • Fewer service disruptions from landslides means more reliable passenger rail
  • Enhanced safety
  • Property damage minimized and response costs reduced 

What is the project timeline?
In late 2012, the preliminary engineering phase began evaluating slide potential of slopes along the northern rail line. The team narrowed the slope stabilization effort to six projects in a slope-prone area between Seattle and Everett. For two projects near Mukilteo and Everett, construction began in 2013 and was completed in 2014. A third project may require redesign due to landslides at that location during the 2014-2015 rainy season. After design is complete for the remaining three projects in 2015, construction cost estimates will be determined, funding sources identified, and timelines developed to construct the projects.

Financial Information

WSDOT received federal high speed rail funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) administers the federal funds.
Project Budget: $16.1 million

How can I get more information?
WSDOT Rail Division
PO Box 47407
Olympia, WA 98504-7407

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