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Published: Monday, September 21, 2009, 12:01 a.m.

Eagerly anticipated Stanwood train platform late, over budget

  • An Amtrak train speeds past new construction under way Thursday morning on Stanwood Station on the east side of downtown.

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    An Amtrak train speeds past new construction under way Thursday morning on Stanwood Station on the east side of downtown.

STANWOOD — Construction of the city’s new passenger train platform is costing more than anticipated, and the platform might not be open until just before Thanksgiving for people who want to ride the rail.
Nevertheless, people in Stanwood are watching eagerly as the Amtrak Cascades stop takes shape along the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe tracks in east downtown.
Work crews from Interwest Construction of Burlington occasionally remind people snapping photos to be careful not to step out into the middle of 271st Street NW, said Kirk Fredrickson, project manager with the state Department of Transportation.
Mayor Dianne White also remains enthusiastic about the rail station, though she has worried about delays and resulting costs.
The $5 million project got the OK from the state Legislature in 2006. The completion date has been moved ahead numerous times, with the current finish set for about Nov. 11, Fredrickson said. Amtrak service would begin soon after completion.
The latest delay occurred after crews began work in April, when it was discovered that soil in a small area of the construction site was contaminated with lead.
It wasn’t a large amount of lead, but it took two months to follow the proper steps required by the Department of Ecology to get it cleaned up, Fredrickson said.
White can’t help but wonder why transportation officials didn’t anticipate the lead contamination and write possible removal into the project budget.
“Lead was part of a lubricant used by railroad men in the early days,” White said. “I would think that every railway site in the state would have lead contamination.”
The cleanup cost $100,000, Fredrickson said.
That’s an amount that could have gone to help the city build a public restroom near the new train platform, White said.
“I’ve given up on the transportation department as far the restroom goes. The city has the sewer line in there already, so we’ll try to get it built,” she said. “Not that the city has the money.”
The civic group Design Stanwood probably will be involved in finding the funding to build the public restroom, White said.
The city was never promised state funding for toilets at the new train station, though state officials did hope money would be left over for the restroom, Fredrickson said.
Design problems and negotiations with Burlington-Northern Santa Fe over the use of the railroad tracks accounted for much of the delay over the past four years since the project was funded, he said.
When completed, the passenger platform will allow Amtrak Cascades trains to stop in Stanwood several times a day. Passengers will buy their tickets online or over the phone and board the train with their reservation information in hand.
Amtrak Cascades trains connect Eugene, Ore.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Vancouver, B.C., including stops in Edmonds, Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham. The run, which began in 1999, is operated by Amtrak in partnership with the Washington and Oregon transportation departments.
The 600-foot-long train-passenger platform includes covered ramps, railings, shelters and seating, with lighting and landscaping.
Island Transit and Community Transit buses also are scheduled to stop the passenger station.
Next spring, the city plans to host what’s tentatively being called “A Taste of Port Susan,” a celebration of Stanwood-Camano area food and the grand opening of the train station, White said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427, gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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