WA Senate playing games with Amtrak/Sounder

Tacoma’s Trestle, slated for replacement, is under threat

The creaky, century old wooden trestle leading up to Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square, which was planned to be replaced with a new concrete structure with double-track, is being threatened with defunding by the Senate Transportation Committee.

This project would allow additional commuter rail service to Seattle and intercity rail service to Portland and would further help migration of the City’s Amtrak Station to Freighthouse Square.

Here’s how the Seattle Transit Blog’s Ben Schiendelman puts what’s going down:

There are two troubling changes to Regional Mobility Grants, state grants for transit capital and operations. 

The first is how it’s appropriated: in the past, it’s simply been competitive. If a project is more cost effective, it ranks higher on the list. This makes a lot of sense! 

The Senate budget added an “agency cap” – any one agency can’t get more than 25% of total projects. This is effectively an attack on Sound Transit – it cut the $7 million grant to the Tacoma Trestle project.

If you have a Senator on the Transportation Committee, this would be a good time to tell them how this budget concerns you – and if you have a Rep on House Transportation, give them a thumbs up for not having done these things in their budget.

Locally, Mike Carrell (R) 28th District-Lakewood/Dupont and Nathan Schlicher (D) 26th District-Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula, serve on the Senate Transportation Committee.  Tell them that Tacoma Trestle should be funded and Regional Mobility Grants should continue to be based on project merit, not artificially spread over more agencies.  Also, let Mayor Strickland know that the City of Tacoma should exert pressure on the Senate on this issue.

The reappropriations provision is a bit concerning. Projects get delayed regularly. Sadly local transit authorities rely on this grant quite heavily and probably the reason why the provision was put in.