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Council approves rail corridor purchase


On Monday, Dec. 9, the Snohomish County Council approved the purchase of nearly 12 miles of the Eastside Rail corridor, preserving commercial freight service and establishing a foundation for future commercial, recreational and transportation needs as the county grows.

With this vote, the council approved the signing of a purchase and sale agreement that allows Snohomish County to use Conservation Futures bond money to acquire the property from the Port of Seattle for $5 million. The agreement should be finalized by mid-2014.

“This action will preserve and improve on a very important regional asset,” said council chair Stephanie Wright. “Maintaining freight service, while preparing for our future commercial, recreation and transportation needs is an opportunity we must pursue.”

Councilmembers and elected leaders hope to expand the property’s uses by linking the county trail system, supporting bicycle traffic, and eventually adding passenger and excursion trains to local cities.

“Having so many diverse uses within this land will be a great benefit to our local cities and county economy for generations to come,” said council vice-chair Dave Somers. “We are excited to move forward with upgrades to the rail corridor and to expand our world class trail system.”

The Eastside Rail Corridor spans more than 40 miles, linking the city of Snohomish with Woodinville, Redmond and Renton. “I am so excited that we are purchasing and preserving the East Side Rail/Trail Corridor for our future,” said councilmember Dave Gossett. “It will be an amazing community asset.”

The acquisition of the corridor will also link the Centennial Trail with the trail system in King County, allowing people to connect with the Lake Sammamish, Burke Gilman and other trails. “This opportunity is critical not only for our future transportation needs, but also to our quality of life,” said councilmember Brain Sullivan.

The Eastside Rail Corridor presents an opportunity for high capacity transportation without the expense of establishing an alignment and purchasing rights of way. The Port of Seattle purchased the corridor from Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad in 2009, and portions of the corridor are currently owned by the cities of Redmond and Kirkland.

“This purchase represents a great opportunity for everyone in Snohomish County,” executive John Lovick said. “We have the potential to develop this corridor in ways that will expand our recreational opportunities and help reduce traffic congestion on nearby highways.”


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