Kirkland to buy railroad corridor for future bike trail

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Kirkland plans to buy its 5.5-mile section of the old Eastside railroad corridor that runs for 42 miles between Renton and Snohomish.

The city council approved the $5 million expenditure at a meeting Tuesday night. The final purchase would come through in March.

The abandoned railroad route could be improved into a biking and hiking trail in Kirkland, but there's talk of adding light rail or express buses to the corridor as well.

The cost of improving the abandoned railroad corridor ranges from $2.4 million to $82 million, depending on whether the path would be paved or upgraded to include light rail or bus transportation, according to the Seattle Times.

The Port of Seattle bought the railroad right-of-way from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) in 2009; at that time its primary traffic was a nightly dinner train that ran between Renton and Woodinville.

Former County Executive Ron Sims envisioned that King County would acquire the abandoned railroad corridor and use it for the backbone of the county's existing 175-mile bike trail network.

The abandoned railway connects Renton, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville and Snohomish. As a bicycle trail, it would hook up to the Cedar River and Burke-Gilman trails in King County and the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County.

Struggling economically, the county has been able to come up with the funds to buy it from the Port of Seattle. Also, expanding use of the corridor into transit became a hot topic.

Redmond bought a spur line of the BNSF railway to knit together some trails and utility routes within its boundaries.

The stretch to be purchased by Kirkland runs from 108th Avenue NE (near Route 520) to the Totem Lake neighborhood near Slater Avenue NE at 132nd Place NE.

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