Sen. Cantwell announces $13.8M for light rail improvements, landslide protections

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell on Wednesday announced $13.8 million in federal funding for light rail infrastructure in Western Washington.

Sound Transit gets $10 million, which will go to improving tracks and signals between DuPont and Tacoma. Cantwell's office said this will allow Sound Transit to increase passenger and freight capacity, and eventually allow for double-tracking along the corridor.

Once the project is finished, 4–16 more daily trains will be accommodated on the Amtrak Cascades line, cutting delays and improving reliability.

"As I-5 congestion continues to increase, Puget Sound commuters and travelers need reliable rail service between south Pierce County to Tacoma, Seattle and beyond," said Cantwell. "This $10 million grant will help eliminate three rail bottlenecks between Tacoma and DuPont, allowing Amtrak to run trains more efficiently between Seattle and Portland and reducing delays for the Sounder commuter rail."

WSDOT will get $3.8 million to fund the fourth phase of their rail landslide mitigation program. This includes catchment walls, slope stabilization, drainage improvements and slide warning fences.

"Winter storms cause frequent landslides on the rail tracks between Everett and Seattle, at times causing Sounder rail service to be suspended for several hours while the tracks are cleared. So WSDOT has embarked on this larger project to shore up the hillsides along the route to prevent the landslides from reaching the tracks. This grant, for the fourth phase of the project, will build three catchment walls along the route that will keep the earth in place during wet weather events," said Cantwell.

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Cantwell's office says these funds come from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. Cantwell requested CRISI funding be raised, and it was quadrupled as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—going from $362 million in 2021 to $1.5 billion in 2022.