S Holgate St At-Grade Crossing Elimination Study

May 2024

Project Description

Amtrak Cascades has plans to enhance its existing intercity passenger rail service along its existing rail segment from Seattle to Vancouver and Portland, store new trainsets, and expand its maintenance facilities to accommodate Amtrak and Sound Transit Sounder locomotives. This proposed expansion includes the addition of five to seven new tracks across S Holgate St in addition to the existing eight tracks - up to 15 tracks in total. BNSF and Amtrak have approached the City of Seattle in support of permanently closing S Holgate St from Occidental Ave S to 3rd Ave S in the South Downtown (SODO) area.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has designated City of Seattle a $2 million grant via the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program. With this grant, we’ll lead an extensive, multi-agency transportation and mitigation feasibility study of the impacts of a potential closure of S Holgate St from Occidental Ave S to 3rd Ave S to people walking, biking, rolling, and driving in the SODO neighborhood with an emphasis on safety for all users. We will be working closely with BNSF, Amtrak, Sound Transit, the Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance, and the South Downtown Business Improvement Area (SODO BIA) throughout this analysis. This study is critical to help us understand what additional infrastructure investments are required to maintain east-west access for all modal users. This study is also particularly important because the SODO neighborhood is home to many of the region's supply chain businesses and S Holgate St is a major freight route.

This study will build off an options analysis completed in 2010 and will be updated to reflect changes to the area over the last fourteen years, including the opening of the S Lander St grade separation over the BNSF mainline tracks in 2020. It will also include future plans such as those associated with the expansion of Sound Transit's Link light rail transit in the area. The study may assess each of the following options:

  • Improve operations and safety at the existing at-grade rail crossings along the BNSF mainline tracks and nearby industry tracks,
  • Improve the transportation network operations assuming a proposed closure of the S Holgate St at-grade rail crossings, and
  • Replacement of the S Holgate St at-grade rail crossings with a grade-separated structure.

Throughout this study, we're hoping to bolster our Vision Zero initiative, aimed at eliminating traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. We'll assess how various changes to S Holgate St might influence the safety of all travelers, centering the safety of the most vulnerable travelers. When we say most vulnerable, we mean people who are not protected by a vehicle - people walking, rolling (using a wheelchair or other mobility device), biking, scooting, or riding a motorcycle. 

Project Map 

Map showing location of King County within Washington State.
Context map showing project study area within King County in Washington State.

Map showing broader area and nearby tracks and crossings.
Map showing S Holgate St At-Grade Crossing Elimination Study Area.

Zoomed in map of project area.
Map showing proposed Amtrak expansion area outlined in red. Click here for enlarged map.

Project Background

S Holgate Street is an arterial roadway within the Duwamish Manufacturing/Industrial Center, the Northwest region’s largest freight hub. Approximately half of all the freight rail traffic in Washington state moves through this very dense and active freight center, in addition to Sounder commuter rail and Amtrak passenger rail services. Due to the intense multimodal activity in this area, S Holgate St and several other nearby crossings rank among the highest-risk at-grade rail crossings in the state.

The proposed Amtrak service and infrastructure enhancements are likely to increase train traffic across the S Holgate St at-grade rail crossings over an extended daily time frame, pushing traffic onto the adjacent streets in the SODO area, producing yet-to-be-determined impacts to freight and general-purpose traffic flow. These effects are likely to shorten the existing pavement and sidewalk service life, and negatively impact safety for everyone traveling through the area, especially more vulnerable travelers such as people walking, rolling, and biking.

Outreach and Engagement

We are committed to sharing our process and findings with the Port of Seattle, Amtrak, BNSF, Sound Transit, SODO's business and property owners, and organizations, as well as other local neighborhoods and stakeholders.


This planning study is funded in part by grants from the USDOT FRA's Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program ($2 million) and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)'s Move Ahead Washington Grant Program ($400,000). Additional funding will be provided by the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Freight Railroad Crossing Spot Improvements Program. Consultants working on the planning study are expected to be familiar with Federal and State grant funded program requirements.

The Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program is an inaugural federal grant program aimed at helping communities eliminate points where railroad tracks intersect roads, leading to traffic jams, collisions, and safety concerns. This initiative is a part of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The WSDOT Move Ahead Washington funding will add support to existing programs such as the Rail Crossing Elimination Grant Program and lead to the development of new programs. 

Project Schedule

We have advertised the Request for Qualification (RFQ) for the planning study to prospective consultant teams. The advertisement is in the Daily Journal of Commerce, and the full solicitation can be downloaded from the City of Seattle procurement platform, Bonfire. We plan to begin the S Holgate St At-Grade Crossing Elimination Study by summer 2024 with a completion date of summer 2026.


S Holgate St At-Grade Crossing Elimination Study grant application


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

Newsletter Updates


Sign up for the latest updates from Transportation

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.