The King County Council has voted unanimously to purchase a 15.6-mile portion of the Eastside Rail Corridor -- 5.75 miles of which were previously purchased by the city of Kirkland -- from the Port of Seattle for $15.8 million.
According to a news release, the county will have three years to pay the purchase price and, in exchange, will receive a fee ownership of 15.6 miles of the corridor and an easement ownership over an additional 3.6 miles.
The legislation, proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine in August and approved Monday, coincides with the City of Redmond's plans to build a 3.9-mile linear park along a portion of the former rail line that was purchased by the city in 2010, as well as Kirkland’s recent acquisition of its porton of the line.
Redmond Mayor John Marchione said the city will still maintain ownership of the rail line within city boundaries, while providing limited easements to King County.
The city of Kirland had sent a letter to the King County Council supporting its purchase of the 15.6-mile stretch it sought. "The good news for Kirkland is that we get to decide what we'll do with our part of the trail," said City Manager Kurt Triplett.
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 purchase agreement is a seven-mile spur between Woodinville and Redmond.
The 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, Kirkland is in the process of converting its 5.75 miles of the line into a bicycle and pedestrian path, and 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.