Traffic

Sounder riders should expect delays for Auburn track construction

Constructions workers wait for a Sounder train to leave the Auburn station before resuming work early Tuesday. Crews hired by BNSF are adding a third track through the area.
Constructions workers wait for a Sounder train to leave the Auburn station before resuming work early Tuesday. Crews hired by BNSF are adding a third track through the area. Staff writer

Sound Transit is warning commuters to expect delays on its popular south-line Sounder trains between now and the end of the year.

A BNSF expansion project in Auburn resulted Thursday in at least two delays, one of 15 minutes and another of 25 minutes, according to Sound Transit rider alerts.

More are likely, the regional transit agency says.

“Over the next four months, Sounder south line riders will experience occasional service delays due to a BNSF construction project that will add a third track through Auburn,” according to Sound Transit.

“Every effort will be made to minimize delays; however, to ensure passenger safety, there will be times when service is impacted.”

More than 16,000 riders use the Sounder south line each day, according to the latest ridership report from Sound Transit, which operates 11 trains daily from Pierce County into Seattle.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said Monday crews are adding a 5-mile section of track from the southern boundary of Kent through Auburn.

The work, when completed in January, is expected to smooth freight, commuter and Amtrak rail traffic through the Kent Valley, Melonas said.

“The addition of the third main line will allow commuter trains to access the passenger platforms, just south of West Main Street, while other trains will be able to continue to move down the third track,” according to records with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Melonas said the railroad is trying to “minimize delays, but the work has to be done.”

Sound Transit is encouraging Sounder riders to “plan ahead and anticipate additional travel times during the construction period.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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