The Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council (RAC) - the panel created to plan how the owners can develop a coordinated vision for the future of the corridor - has given its unanimous approval of a report affirming cooperation on future uses of the corridor.
The Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council (RAC) — the panel created to plan how the owners can develop a coordinated vision for the future of the corridor — has given its unanimous approval of a report affirming cooperation on future uses of the corridor.
The report, which was approved at the RAC’s Oct. 29 meeting, provides a summary of the RAC’s work to date, and calls for continued collaboration between the rail corridor owners.
The report summarizes recommendations from the first phase of the regional planning effort for what will become a multi-use corridor, offering connections for trails, high-capacity transit, potential freight reactivation, rail use and utilities for generations to come.
The report makes numerous recommendations, including:
- Creating a regional legacy for future generations, outlining plans to promote the corridor as a regional spine for mobility and economic development;
- Suggested regional policy framework for future decision making about the corridor, including plans to coordinate future transportation and development guidelines along the corridor;
- Approaches to constraints and opportunities offering guidance to address some of the challenges and opportunities in the corridor; and
- Continued community outreach to ensure that plans created for the corridor reflect community values.
The report also describes the RAC’s vision for the corridor, the corridor’s history, and the process used by the RAC to develop these recommendations.
“We have reached a milestone that is another important step toward sustainability for our community and its citizens. Literally, and figuratively, we are creating a corridor which will connect people with jobs, services and recreational opportunities within their community,” said RAC Co-Chair and King County Councilmember Jane Hague. “At the same time, we are preserving the opportunity for future uses of the corridor that can benefit our entire region – a legacy for generations to come.”
“This report affirms the promise of the Eastside Rail Corridor as a future backbone of our world-class regional trail system, while also preserving Eastside passenger rail options and supporting an array of utility services,” said RAC Co-Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “ I would like to thank the members of the Regional Advisory Council who devoted so many hours of their time to protect and enhance our high quality of life here in King County.”
“It is inspiring to think about how this corridor will play a huge role in the region’s future by linking people and communities to the places where they work and play, and by supporting essential utility uses," said Christie True, RAC Co-Chair and Director of King County's Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “I commend our partners for seizing the unique regional and local opportunities the corridor offers for mobility and quality of life, and I am excited about King County’s work already under way to address several of the RAC’s recommendations.”
“Kirkland is pleased to develop its long held vision for trail and transit along the Cross Kirkland Corridor in collaboration with the other owners of the Eastside Rail Corridor,” said Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride. “Kirkland just celebrated the removal of rails with a community walk on October 27 that brought hundreds of people with 100 of them reaching the end of 5.75 mile corridor on foot and bicycles.”
“This asset is a rare treasure in an urbanized area,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione. “Redmond is pleased to serve in a regional stewardship role so that the public has a great benefit for generations to come.”
The report also summarizes the current conditions in the corridor, describes current uses adjacent to the corridor, the major constraints that will need to be resolved – such as pinch points, steep slopes and narrow trestles. Opportunities for connections are also identified in the report, including existing or future trails, high-capacity transit, parks and utility corridors, plus significant plans of neighboring communities that could affect the corridor.
“The Eastside Rail Corridor offers an exciting array of opportunities and potential uses — including vital connections between important job and activity centers as well as linkages to dozens of regionally significant transportation facilities, trails, and parks,” said King County Councilmember Larry Phillips. “But we can only realize the potential of this ‘corridor for the ages’ through forward thinking, careful planning, collaboration, and commitment to a unified vision. That is the purpose — and the promise — of this report and the work of the RAC.”
“The Eastside Rail Corridor is an exciting multi-faceted project that will benefit our entire region, now and in the future,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “I am amazed at the possibilities and the benefits to all of King County. The members of the Regional Advisory Council deserve our gratitude for their hard work in coming to this milestone. Generations will enjoy this beautiful trail and have opportunities for recreation and healthy living.”
“Transit riders’ first benefits from this corridor will come in 2023 when Sound Transit opens the East Link light rail extension from Seattle to Bellevue and Overlake,” said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. “The longer-term potential is also exciting. The process that that Sound Transit just launched to update the regional transit Long-Range Plan will give the public a chance to help explore options.”
“Puget Sound Energy is excited to be a partner in preserving this terrific regional asset,” said Puget Sound Energy Local Government Affairs Manager David Namura. “The Eastside Rail Corridor is one of a select few with a wide array of multiple uses in the country from public trails, transit and utilities. As the eastside continues to surge with future economic development, both commercial and residential, expanded utility infrastructure through the use of the corridor will allow us to properly prepare for that growth. We look forward to continue working with each of our area partners towards a collaborative effort in maximizing the corridor’s potential for our region.”
Part of a 42-mile rail line that was owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, the Eastside Rail Corridor extends from Renton north to Snohomish, passing through Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville and portions of unincorporated King County. It also includes a spur (called the Redmond Spur) that extends seven-plus miles from Woodinville south to Redmond. The owners of the ERC – King County, Redmond, Kirkland, Sound Transit and Puget Sound Energy – have come together to collaboratively plan for the future of this important multi-use corridor.
The report of the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council is available on the website.
Information on the process to update Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan is available at www.soundtransit.org/longrangeplan.