Washington has been awarded $31 million in federal money for railroad projects in the state.

Share story

Washington has been awarded $31 million in federal money for railroad projects in the state.

More than $18.2 million will go to seismically retrofit King Street Station in Seattle and its clock tower, as well as continued restoration of the station’s main hall and other upgrades. The project is a partnership with the state, Amtrak, the city of Seattle, Sound Transit and BNSF Railway.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the federal funds will allow the Seattle Department of Transportation to complete seismic upgrades, enhance Amtrak’s operations and restore marred historic features at King Street Station.

“In a tough economic environment, this grant allows us to continue critical King Street Station work and also add needed local jobs,” McGinn said in a news release. “It underscores the station’s importance to Northwest rail passengers and its significant place in Seattle’s history.”

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The station first opened in May 1906. The San Marco bell tower of Venice, Italy, served as the model for the building’s familiar clock tower, making it the tallest building in Seattle at the time of its construction. The structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The city acquired the station from BNSF in 2008.

Already $11 million has been spent on restoration and improvements, including the replacement of a leaky roof with a historically accurate terra-cotta tile roof, repair of the 245-foot clock tower, the removal of nonhistoric additions to expose the marble grand staircase that links the street level Jackson Street Plaza to the main waiting area, and removal of the dated drop-ceiling in the main waiting room, revealing the original 34-foot ornate plaster ceiling and windows.

The grant also includes $9 million for Sound Transit’s Tukwila Station project, a new train station for use by Sounder commuter trains and Amtrak Cascades intercity trains.

In Mount Vernon, $3.3 million will be spent to build sidings — passing lanes for trains — to improve speed and reliability for freight and passenger trains.

The remaining $400,000 will be spent developing a state rail plan integrating freight and passenger service.

This latest round of grants comes from two Federal Railroad Administration programs to continue the development of high-speed intercity passenger rail across the country.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.