Tuesday, December 15, 2009

King County Approves Rail Corridor Funds

Washington State’s King County Council approved an ordinance Monday clearing the way for up to $26.5 million to be spent on the purchase of portions of an abandoned rail corridor that runs through Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville and Redmond.

The move comes shortly on the heels of a similar move by the Sound Transit board of directors authorizing the expenditure of up to $14 million for just over a mile of the corridor that runs through Bellevue. The board also authorized negotiations to purchase an easement along a longer stretch of the corridor for possible future use as a commuter train corridor.

The City of Redmond could wind up paying close to $9 million for the portion of the corridor that runs through its borders. In addition, the Cascade Water Alliance and Puget Sound Energy are looking to purchase utility easements along the corridor.

The tracks and easements being sought by King County, Sound Transit and other local entities are part of a larger 42-mile Renton-to-Snohomish rail corridor abandoned by BNSF Railway. The Port of Seattle is in the process of buying the entire rail corridor and plans to negotiate with the local agencies for the rights to certain local stretches. The Port purchase is expected to close on Thursday. For its part, the Port plans to maintain freight service on the corridor north of Woodinville.