PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - This weekend, Amtrak will run test trains and test train signals on the Point Defiance Bypass, the route near where a deadly train derailment occurred in late 2017.
Testing along the route will be Jan. 16th and 17th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. WSDOT says test trains could reach up to 79 miles per hour during the test runs.
In 2017, the Point Defiance Bypass launched its inaugural run of the new route. The route allows Amtrak Cascade to add more passenger trips between Seattle and Portland, while reducing travel time and traffic interference with freight trains.
According to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation from 2019, the engineer failed to see the sign to slow down on the first-ever passenger trip on this route. He took the problematic turn at 78 miles per hour when the speed limit was 30. Since the derailment, passenger rail service has been reverted to a previous route.
Following the 17-month investigation, WSDOT, Amtrak, and Sound Transit have been working to improve safety measures, implementing lower speed signage and restrictions approaching the turn where the 2017 derailment took place.
Point Defiance Bypass train project and improvements. Credit: WSDOT.
WSDOT says police will be present to assist at at-grade railroad signal intersections. Potential traffic delays could occur at the following signal crossings:
- South 66th Street
- South 74th Street
- Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest
- 100th Street Southwest
- 108th Street Southwest
- Bridgeport Way Southwest
- Clover Creek Drive Southwest
- 41st Division Drive
- DuPont – Steilacoom Road