Negotiations to use a 12-mile stretch of the Eastside Rail Corridor to connect the towns of Woodinville and Snohomish by rail-trail have been put on hold.
The breakdown in the talks between Snohomish County and the Port of Seattle dashes immediate hopes of expanding a regional rail-trail network that would enable bicyclists to ride from Seattle or Issaquah to Snohomish and beyond entirely on bike trails.
Successful negotiations would have created a trail network connecting the Burke-Gilman, East Lake Sammamish, Sammamish River, Issaquah-Preston, and Preston-Snoqualmie trails in King County with the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County.
The Centennial Trail rolls north for 30 miles to the Skagit County line.
In reporting the breakdown in talks, the Everett Herald said disagreements arose over how to arrange for trails and train tracks to share some bridges and trestles.
The Eastside Community Rail limited partnership still runs freight on the tracks and is considering a tourist train that would connect the town of Snohomish with the winery district in Woodinville. A commuter train also is a possibility.
The former BNSF railroad right-of-way was acquired by the Port of Seattle in 2009. It runs from Snohomish in the north to Renton in the south.
Kirkland already has transformed a 5-mile section into a popular rail-trail through its community, the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Redmond is doing the same on an old BNSF spur line.
The Everett Herald reported that Woodinville is negotiating to buy the two miles of railroad right-of-way north to the King-Snohomish border, creating a connection to the Sammamish River Trail.
That leaves the 12 miles of right-of-way in Snohomish County, but the county council is expected to end negotiations when it meets on Wednesday. Snohomish County Public Works Director Steve Thomsen told the Everett Herald:
“We just agreed with the port that maybe we need to start fresh. And we’re not sure what that looks like right now.”
Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak called the setback “a short-term disappointment.”
See also: Port of Seattle Eastside Rail Corridor