Rails Versus Trails: Meeting Hashes Out Plans For Eastside Corridor

A meeting last week at Chateau Ste. Michelle winery involved those against removing the tracks from the Eastside Rail Corridor from Renton to Snohomish.

The King County Council voted unanimously in December to purchase a 15.6-mile portion of the Eastside Rail Corridor — that extends from Renton to Snohomish — from the Port of Seattle for $15.8 million. Last week, talk of what to do with it took place in Woodinville at Chateau Ste. Michelle, according to a post on Crosscut.com.

At the meeting, the Eastside Trailway Alliance specifically questioned Kirkland's plans to take out the old rails and turn 5.7 miles of corridor into a trail. They want to keep the track intact, although Kirkland purchased its part of the line and is moving forward with a plan to take it out to build a trail similar to the Sammamish River Trail.

One central idea the group proposes is a train from Woodinville to Snohomish, which Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak is promoting. (See her post here.)

The Eastside Rail Corridor runs from Snohomish to Renton along former Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks through the cities of Woodinville, Kirkland and Bellevue. Also included in the December purchase agreement is a seven-mile spur between Woodinville and Redmond.

“If Kirkland takes out the tracks, that really messes with a lot of plans,” Guzak said at the meeting. “I really wish they’d wait.” She said the group plans to “make a strong case to the city of Kirkland.”

The King County Council envisions the Eastside Rail Corridor serving as a recreational trail for cyclists and pedestrians that would connect with other regional trails, such as the Sammamish River Trail in Redmond and Woodinville and the I-90 Trail in Bellevue. Light rail is also planned for a large segment of the corridor.

“This corridor is poised to become an important transportation link among Eastside suburbs,” council member Kathy Lambert of Redmond stated in a news release at the time of the purchase proposal.

Meanwhile, preliminary work has begun on the Redmond Central Connector, a linear park that will run through downtown Redmond on the former rail line. The project will include a paved path for bicyclists and pedestrians as well as interactive art pieces.

The first phase, a one-mile segment between the Bear Creek Trail and Sammamish River Trail that's projected to cost $3.9 million, is expected to wrap up construction sometime next year.

Do you think the railway should be converted to a trail system? Tell us in comments.


Related coverage:

Sound Transit Secures Easements for Future East Link Rail Access



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