Dec. 17, 2007
Council ensures public ownership of Eastside BNSF rail corridor and dual use for rail and trails
New agreement calls for public process to determine best allocation for rails and trails
Public ownership of the BNSF Eastside rail corridor was ensured today as the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously approved the framework of an historic agreement with the Port of Seattle and BNSF Railway Company, one that also preserves the opportunities for dual use of the corridor as both a recreational trail and a transportation corridor.
"Whether you are a cyclist, walker or transit rider, this is a major win," said Council Vice Chair Julia Patterson
, prime sponsor of the BNSF legislation. "After a lot of hard work by our County Executive, County Council and the Port of Seattle, we have achieved what matters most – the preservation of this corridor for the public.”
“Getting this priceless transportation corridor into public ownership is our paramount achievement today,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips
. “This legislation accomplishes that key goal and gives the region time for a comprehensive dialogue on how to proceed with using and developing the corridor after it’s owned by King County taxpayers. With construction cranes dominating the skylines of booming Eastside cities, I am confident this right-of-way will be in dual use as a transportation and recreation corridor sooner rather than later.”
The Council authorized the County Executive to negotiate and execute agreements with the Port and BNSF, under which the Port will purchase the entire Eastside rail corridor from BNSF by December 31, and conduct a formal public process with the County and other agencies next year to determine the best allocation for the dual use of the corridor for both rail and trails.
“The major benefit of this agreement is that it ensures the rails in this corridor will not be removed, and we will seek to determine the best uses for this dual-use corridor for transportation and trails,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert
, who represents District 3, where part of the corridor is located. “Preserving future transportation options in this corridor is essential for the fast-growing Eastside as well as for regional mobility.”
Should the Port in the future decide to sell any part of the corridor, King County will have 120 days in which to acquire the property, after which the Port would offer the property for sale for 120 days to any other public agency that provides transit, rail services, or trails. King County will retain a six-month option to purchase the southern portion of the corridor between the Wilburton tunnel and Renton, and most of the Redmond spur just south of Woodinville, at a price proportionate to the total purchase price of the corridor.
“Our legislation ensures that this unique rail corridor is acquired and preserved in the hands of the people for multi-modal transportation and trails,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson
, Operating Budget Committee chair. “Now the hard work begins to initiate a conversation with the public for determining the specific details regarding the future of the corridor.”
“The Port has bought more than a valuable strip of real estate,” said Councilmember Dow Constantine
. “The Port has bought the public time – time for a regional conversation about the best way to use this unique public right-of-way.”
“Now it is time to get serious about how to implement a trail and rail service along this unique corridor,” added Patterson. “The defeat of Proposition One brings with it a new day and it is incumbent upon us to take a second look at the use of the existing tracks for rail service. We need to come to a conclusion on that issue once and for all."
Patterson chaired an extensive advisory committee comprised of city, business, environmental and civic leaders that met over the course of nine months and recommended the corridor be preserved for the public.
Councilmembers Constantine, Ferguson, Lambert, Phillips, and an aide to Patterson developed details of the agreement Friday afternoon in a meeting with Port of Seattle Commission President John Creighton and Port CEO Tay Yoshitani.
Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH
system. Type in “2007-0605”