The federal government has given its official approval of the Point Defiance Bypass, clearing the way for Amtrak passenger trains to travel through Lakewood, Tacoma and DuPont.
The Federal Railroad Administration announced today that, nearly five years after officials proposed the Point Defiane Bypass project, it issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact" regarding its effects on local neighborhoods where the trains would travel.
WSDOT’s project team will now advance design work to reroute passenger trains from the BNSF Railway main line near Point Defiance - and through University Place and Steilacoom - to an existing, and less congested, rail line that travels through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont, the state says.
The state Department of Transportation expects construction to begin in 2015 and open the new route to service in 2017.
The new bypass route is located along an existing 18-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, the state says.
To ensure meaningful engagement and to maintain steady progress on the project, key stakeholders and municipalities within the project area are part of two advisory teams - a technical team and an executive team.
WSDOT continues to consult with local tribes, the cities of Tacoma, DuPont and Lakewood, Pierce County, Camp Murray, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the state says.