Port of Seattle buys rail corridor
The Port of Seattle said Monday that it had finalized the acquisition of the Eastside Rail Corridor from BNSF Railway, after nearly two years of negotiations.
Final cost for the northern section of the 42-mile corridor between Woodinville and Snohomish was about $81 million. BNSF donated the southern portion of the corridor between Woodinville and Renton and the Redmond Spur that goes through the City of Redmond.
'The port's goal has always been to preserve the corridor and place it in public ownership and we've accomplished that goal,' said Tay Yoshitani, the Port of Seattle's chief executive officer. 'I'm grateful to BNSF for their willingness to work with the port, and to our partner agencies for joining us in the effort.'
Freight service will be maintained between Snohomish and Woodinville through an agreement between the port and a third-party operator.
King County and Sound Transit will acquire rights in the southern section between Woodinville and Renton, and in the Redmond Spur. The southern and Redmond Spur portions of the track will be preserved for both transportation and recreation uses under the federal rail banking program. King County intends to develop a regional trail along portions of the corridor. Sound Transit will own a section of track adjacent to downtown Bellevue for use in building the East Link light rail line and will have easements for potential future public transit service on the southern and Redmond Spur sections of the corridor.
The port said BNSF, driven by increasing maintenance costs and declining freight use and revenues, has planned to divest itself of the rail corridor since 2003.