Woodinville Meeting Weighs Rails Versus Trails

A meeting last week at Chateau Ste. Michelle involved those against turning rails into trails.

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.

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 turn 5.7 miles of corridor into a trail. They want to keep the track in tact, although Kirkland 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.

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:

Kirkland Council OKs Historic Rail Purchase

Sound Transit Secures Easements for Future East Link Rail Access

City Officials Unveil Final Plans for Redmond Central Connector


Nelson Schmitz January 30, 2013 at 03:08 AM
So many of us who live in Woodinville have to endure the slog of a drive from Woodinville to either Seattle or Bellevue on 405, which is getting worse and worse. Moving people where they need to go for their jobs is, in my mind, far more important than adding another sylvan trail. We have plenty of walking trails already. We don't have enough light rail options on the east side to meet the needs of efficient travel to business centers. I often think that the Northwest spirit of being one with nature is colliding too much with the reality of life as it is. I envision hundreds, if not thousands using a rail line to get to work or to visit metro centers from Woodinville, Kirkland and Snohomish. Contrast that with my vision of a handful of privileged hikers and bike riders with simply another trail at their option. Priorities are way out of kilter here.
Scott Garside January 30, 2013 at 06:05 AM
The line should be kept as rail for another reason: revenue from a dinner train. A base in Woodinville, with wine themed trips to the antiques district in Snohomish, would be a huge boost to local businesses and tax-rolls for both cities and counties. We already have one of the premier bike trails in the country with connections from the Cascades to the Sound. We need a rail corridor for transit, transportation and tourism. I would hope that a solution that would accommodate both rail and bike/pedestrian use could be economically developed to the benefit of all; though I do recall that the initial proposal for a trail was gravel only and not really suitable for all-purpose biking. There is a great solution here, if cooler heads prevail.
Bob January 30, 2013 at 06:03 PM
why not Rails WITH trails. Bob
Mike Tanksley January 31, 2013 at 10:08 PM
To function well as a commuter line, the old BN rail bed needs to be reworked and new rails need to be installed anyway. And while we're at it, much of the right-of-way is plenty wide enough to accommodate both rails and trails. There are definitely some pinch points, but Rails and Trails should be the long range vision.


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