Eastside Rail Corridor
On Dec. 10, 2012, the King County Council unanimously adopted legislation to purchase a large portion of the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) and establish an ERC Regional Advisory Council. The action brings to a close nearly a decade of regional collaboration to bring the corridor into public ownership.
The legislation authorizes King County to purchase a 15.6-mile portion of the corridor and obtain an easement over an additional 3.6 miles. The ERC Advisory Council will oversee the corridor planning process, including implementing and coordinating rail, trail and utility uses in the corridor, coordinating with affected cities, and overseeing the work of technical staff.
The Council's action is the final step in an effort that began in 2003 when Burlington Northern announced its intention to sell a 42-mile corridor that extends from Renton to Snohomish. In partnership with the Port of Seattle, King County acted to prevent the corridor from being broken up and sold for private development.
After three years of negotiations, the Port of Seattle agreed in 2007 to purchase the rail corridor and lease the southern portion of the corridor to King County for both use as a trail and possibly an Eastside transportation corridor.
The Port officially purchased the Rail Corridor in December 2009, with the Council agreeing to purchase a trail easement and become the trail sponsor, giving the County Executive the negotiating authority to assist in the purchase of the corridor.
Throughout the negotiations, the Port, and County have worked with a group of regional stakeholders—including Sound Transit, the cities of Redmond, Kirkland and Puget Sound Energy — in creating a public-private partnership to keep the parcel out of the reach of private developers and connect ownership and use of the parcels with the appropriate agencies and jurisdictions.
Under the terms of the sale, which were approved by the Port of Seattle on August 14, King County will have three years to reimburse the Port for the purchase price of up to $15.8 million. In exchange, King County will receive 15.6 miles of fee ownership and 3.6 miles of easement ownership in the corridor, through unincorporated King County and the cities of Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville. The agreement will credit King County for $1.9 million it paid to the Port in 2009 for a multi-purpose easement in the corridor.