March 30, 2013
County, partners and community celebrate Eastside Rail Corridor public ownership
Under bright skies and standing just feet away from the ribbon of land that stretches from Renton to Snohomish County, leaders from King County, several cities, numerous stakeholder groups and others came together Saturday to celebrate a nearly decade-long effort to preserve and acquire the Eastside Rail Corridor for public use.
“After a decade of working together to achieve this milestone, today we can celebrate our region’s future of improved transportation and recreation options along this scenic corridor,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who led a public celebration of the County’s acquisition of 15.6 miles of the corridor, along with an easement over an additional 3.6 miles.
"Literally and figuratively, King County’s portion will not only provide a link to recreational opportunities between cities and our trail network, but it preserves the opportunity to connect people with jobs and services throughout the eastern side of the county," said King County Councilmember Jane Hague.
"As people and jobs continue coming to our region, the Eastside Rail Corridor will provide an invaluable contiguous corridor for multiple public uses, including transportation and recreation," said King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee. "It took unprecedented regional cooperation and partnership to preserve this corridor for the public, and partnership will be necessary to maximize opportunities in the corridor."
“The Eastside Rail Corridor is an irreplaceable gift to future generations of Puget Sound residents, and I congratulate all of the leaders in our region who worked so hard for so many years to protect this critical corridor,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski.”
Saturday’s celebration capped an effort that began in 2003 when Burlington Northern announced its intention to sell a 42-mile corridor extending 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. In 2007, the Port agreed 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 late 2009, and the King County Council agreed 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.
A regional partnership was formed between the County, Sound Transit, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the cities of Redmond and Kirkland to ensure the corridor was not cut up and sold piecemeal.
Under the terms of the sale, King County has 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 credits King County for $1.9 million it paid to the Port in 2009 for a multi-purpose easement in the corridor.
The corridor’s owners have come together to collaboratively plan for the future of this important dual use corridor. The Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council will discuss how to complement one-another’s uses of property rights within the corridor, hear from stakeholders and interested community members and then will make recommendations about how the corridor can best be designed for trail and transit use.
Learn more about the corridor and the advisory council at www.kingcounty.gov/erc.
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