TACOMA, WASH. – On Nov. 18, 2021, Amtrak moved into the new Tacoma Dome Station in the historic Freighthouse Square in the city’s Dome District. This modern station replaced an older structure located about one-half mile to the northeast and was built as part of the Point Defiance Bypass Project.
The 10,000-square-foot station, designed by VIA Architecture with community input, replaced an existing portion of the Freighthouse Square building. Soaring walls of glass, wood columns and terrazzo flooring create a bright and airy space for customers. A large, colorful tile art installation depicts the city’s railroad history through images of locomotives, cars, passengers and local scenery. Easy connections are available to Sounder commuter rail, Tacoma Link light rail and local and regional buses.
An arcade connects the station to the rest of popular Freighthouse Square, noted for its art galleries, specialty shops, restaurants and events spaces. The three-block-long green building has been a city landmark for more than a century. It was originally completed in 1909 as the western freight terminus of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway – known as the “Milwaukee Road.”
The multi-year, state-led Point Defiance Bypass Project rerouted passenger trains away from the curving shore of Puget Sound – on a route that features single-track tunnels – to an existing inland rail line between Tacoma and Olympia with less freight traffic. The project benefits Amtrak Cascades service by improving reliability, reducing overall travel time and providing an opportunity to add train frequencies.
Amtrak service on the bypass resumed following intensive system testing, crew qualifications and safety certification in partnership with Sound Transit, the railroad owner, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
A total of eight trains – including the Amtrak Cascades (Vancouver, B.C.-Seattle-Portland-Eugene) and Coast Starlight (Seattle-Sacramento-Los Angeles) – will use the bypass daily, with additional trains added in the months ahead as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Posted Nov. 19, 2021. Images courtesy of WSDOT.