Station developments around the Northwest

Here’s an article from the September/October 2014 All Aboard Washington newsletter.


With the Pt. Defiance Bypass Project – which relocates Amtrak service through Tacoma from the Pt. Defiance line to the line used by Sounder to Lakewood – advancing, the Amtrak station for the city needs to be relocated to Freighthouse Square, where Sounder now stops. WSDOT has been working diligently with Tacoma Dome District stakeholders, Sound Transit, Amtrak, the City of Tacoma and All Aboard Washington (the advocates for the passengers).

Many locations in Freighthouse Square were analyzed and reduced to three options: the east end, the west end and a central location just west of the Sounder station area. Some in the neighborhood favor the east end but this location has many negatives. The major issues with the east end: a quick analysis by WSDOT indicates construction costs would be higher; annual operating costs are about double the other locations (which are estimated at $800,000 to $1 million); and the east end is the least desirable location for passenger convenience and comfort and for Amtrak operations.

WSDOT has selected the central location as the preferred alternate. This option will be forwarded to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) as a compromise that meets the expectations and requirements for an Amtrak station. WSDOT will continue to work with stakeholders during the design phase for the central location. A public meeting will be scheduled to share design concepts and to gather ideas on several design elements. Once approved by the FRA, construction will start in late 2015 or early 2016.

All Aboard Washington will continue to represent the needs and concerns of the rail passengers, which, after all, are the whole reason the trains and stations exists.

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Ken Uznanski, Nationally-Respected Passenger Rail Leader, Passes Away

While several individuals deserve credit for Washington state’s successful rail passenger program, none more than Mr. Ken Uznanski, fine husband, father, and manager and guiding light of the WSDOT’s Rail Office (now Rail Division) for many years. From the viewpoint of one who worked very closely with Ken, I knew his managing of Washington State’s rail program was not just a job, it was a calling. He knew all aspects of what the work entailed, worked with uncommon diligence to lead a loyal crew to where Washington was judged throughout our country as having among the very best state-level passenger rail programs.

There is another article on our webpage with a July 7 “Train Orders” tribute for Ken by rail consultant Tom White. Ken’s many tangible rail achievements are there summarized, so they won’t be repeated here.

During Ken’s years as Rail Manager, I had open access to him at all times. My job was to help carry his message to the Legislature, civic and community leaders, and members of Congress. A mutual trust was present and total. Ken understood that an independent rail advocate could often approach elected officials and other influentials in a way public employees or others with narrower corporate or institutional interests could not as easily do.

In addition to family, church and profession, Ken had another passion, his Alma Mater, the University of Notre Dame. Ken’s broadest smiles were following yet another victory for the Fighting Irish.

Severe health issues kept Ken from active professional rail efforts in the past couple of years, but his successes in behalf of intercity passenger train service in our Northwest Corridor is an ongoing legacy of his work in Olympia.

May God bless Ken Uznanski and his family. The rail community in the Northwest and beyond gives thanks for Ken’s work and his friendship.



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Passenger Rail Lost a Leader and Friend on July 7

The passenger rail community in our state and our country lost a tireless advocate and friend yesterday with the passing of Ken Uznanski. Ken led the WSDOT Rail Division during the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century when the intercity passenger rail program bloomed in Washington and the Amtrak Cascades were born. Here is a tribute (posted on from Tom White, who worked with Ken during much of that time:

Ken Uznanski worked in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Rail Office 1991-2010 (if I remember that final date correctly). For most of that time, he was the Transportation Manager of the Public Transportation and Rail Division and led the high speed rail effort in Washington.

Most people here, probably all or almost all, don’t know or have never heard of Ken. His work affected many of you, however.

Ken led a small and dedicated group of state, Amtrak, and BN employees, and consultants in developing passenger and freight rail improvements in the state of Washington.
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URGENT – Letters Needed for Seattle’s Center City Connector!

Fellow Rail Advocates,


We need to write to members of the Seattle City Council and urge them to proceed with the planning for the Center City Connector (CCC) – the streetcar line that will connect the South Lake Union and First Hill lines.  As I have mentioned in the past, it is this line along 1st Avenue that will accommodate the reactivation  of the Benson streetcars and provide a historic trolley run from the International District, through Pioneer Square, past the Market and on to MOHAI.


Recently, the Council delayed action to select 1st Avenue as the preferred alignment for the CCC when some members questioned the idea of using streetcars at all. This action was taken despite  a unanimous recommendation from the Council’s Transportation Committee to proceed with the project as planned by SDOT.


If the Council refuses to support the use of streetcars on 1st Avenue, we will have no chance of seeing the vintage Benson cars in service on our streets again.


Please write the members of the Seattle  City Council and express your support for the CCC.  You can mention that connecting the SLU and FH lines on 1st Avenue provides the only opportunity to reactivate the Benson streetcars and that you strongly support that result.


The George Benson cars were saved from being sold to St. Louis by the  writing of many dozens of letters.  Let’s preserve what we’ve started by letting the City Council know that we want the vintage cars on the streets of Seattle  again. Particularly vital for Seattle residents to write. For  the majority of you who are not Seattle residents, the Benson streetcars, as well as other forms  passenger rail to and within Seattle, are important reasons we are willing to visit, shop, and enjoy  Washington state’s largest city.


The Council will consider the CCC again on July 21st so please write your letter as soon as possible.  Individual Councilmember e-mail addresses follow:


Tim Burgess, Council President;

Sally Bagshaw;

Sally Clark;

Jean Godden;

Bruce Harrell;

Nick Licata;

Mike O’Brien;

Tom Rasmussen;

Kshama Sawant;


Mayor Murray is supporting the CCC so It would be useful to let him know he has your support.


His e-mail address is;



- Lloyd Flem

This Letter was originally from Tom Gibbs, who

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All Aboard Washington June 14th Meeting

All Aboard Washington will be having our next meeting at Basil’s Kitchen in the Embassy Suites Hotel (Embassy Suites Hotel 15920 W Valley Hwy, Seattle, WA 98188) in Tukwila, WA next to the Amtrak/Sounder Station. Mike Elliot of the BLET (Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen) and Herb Kohn of the UTU (United Transportation Union) are our invited speakers.

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    All Aboard Washington is a 501c3 consumer transportation advocacy group, comprised of nearly 500 people who have a goal of preserving and expanding passenger rail service in the state of Washington. We have been around for 30 years and work closely with other local and national groups, along with political leaders, industry leaders, and other sponsors to improve passenger rail service in our state. We need your help to keep Washington on the right track. Please Donate Today!

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    Mailing Address:
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    Loren Herringstad, President