The Woodinville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved sending a letter to the Kirkland City Council asking them to delay removing 5.7 miles of railroad tracks until later this year.
From the letter draft presented March 5:
It has come to our attention that Kirkland intends to remove the existing railroad tracks within the portion of the corridor owned by Kirkland to build a non-motorized pedestrian/bicycle trail. While we respect your ownership position and desire to expedite the benefits of this corridor for your citizens; we ask that you consider delaying removal of the tracks until later this year. This corridor, particularly through Kirkland, is of great importance to Woodinville and the region.
They are also asking to hold a joint council meeting with Kirkland to discuss the matter.
The King County Council voted unanimously in December to purchase a 15.6-mile portion of the Eastside Rail Corridor from the Port of Seattle for $15.8 million. Kirkland owns their portion of connected track and is moving forward on a plan to remove the rails and turn it into a trail similar to the Sammamish River Trail.
However, Woodinville councilmembers say Kirkland should wait because the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council has yet to present recommendations for the entire corridor. Recommendations will be presented this summer, according to the letter.
In August, the Kirkland City Council unanimously approved what City Manager Kurt Triplett called “a momentous decision” to remove the old railroad ties and rails from the 5.7-mile Cross Kirkland Corridor. The rails could be removed beginning this year, followed by the construction of an 8- to 10-foot wide gravel path that would be finished in 2014. The total project cost would be $3.6 million, $3.2 million of which had already been acquired as of August.
At the time Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride said the decision was not being made lightly.
“This really wasn’t done quickly,” she said. “We’ve been talking with and working shoulder to shoulder with our Transportation Commission and our neighborhoods about this, and we are delighted to make this decision.”
Before it was approved, they had already received a letter from Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak, who opposes the idea. She and others involved in a group called the Eastside TRailway Alliance, have expressed a desire to use the tracks for a possible excursion train and/or for a future commuter line. (See Guzak's post about that idea 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.
Do you think Kirkland should hold off on their trail plans? Is Woodinville too late in their request? Tell us in comments.
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