Another small step to create trail on Eastside Rail Corridor

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A full year after Kirkland opened a six-mile bicycling trail on its section of the Eastside Rail Corridor, King County held a ceremony on Friday to remove some railroad spikes on its 12-mile share of the old rail corridor.

Lots of young cyclists on Cross Kirkland Corridor in 2015

Lots of young cyclists on Cross Kirkland Corridor in 2015

The real work of removing the rails won’t begin until early 2017, another year down the road.

After that, development of a shared multi-use corridor (trail, a commuter rail-line and whatever else you can fit into about a 100-foot right-of-way) can begin.

[Update: Jan. 11 — The formation of an organization to collaborate on creating the Eastside Rail Corridor was announced at Saturday’s rail-corridor summit in Bellevue. Called the Eastside Greeway Alliance, members are Cascade Bicycle Club, The Trust for Public Land, Transportation Choices Coalition (TCC), Forterra, Futurewise, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Washington Trails Association.

“The Eastside Rail Corridor is more than just a trail; it can become a linear park system, like many of the great urban trails across the country.” ]

End of the trail; abandoned tracks owned by King County resume toward Bellevue

End of the trail; abandoned tracks owned by King County resume toward Bellevue

Whenever it’s finished — and there are plenty of obstacles — the trail will become a north-south backbone of a regional trail system that connects Seattle and cities on the Eastside.

Consider that it will connect with the existing east-west I-90 trails and the Burke Gilman Trail. Also remember that a trail is part of the State Route 520 bridge project between Montlake and Bellevue.

Click for full size

Click for full size

The BNSF Railway sold the railroad corridor to the Port of Seattle in 2008. After some complicated horse-trading, King County acquired its share of the railway in 2012. By that time, Kirkland had its stretch of old railway. Spikes, rails and cross ties were removed, and the city set about creating a packed gravel trail.

The Cross Kirkland Corridor officially opened last January [see “Cross Kirkland Corridor bike trail officially opens”]. It quickly became a bike-riding destination for families as well as a commuter corridor to the Google campus. A rail-trail on that corridor was a high priority for years.

Redmond also acquired a spur line of the railway and has been making connections to the Sammamish River Trail.

The rest of the trail is under control of King County, except for a 1-mile stretch in Bellevue that is owned by Sound Transit and will be used for the light-rail line, and about 2 miles in Woodinville that is owned by Port of Seattle.

The Eastside Rail Corridor website has tons of information about surveys of the corridor, the input from public hearings and scoping meetings on possible uses of the corridor, and other steps in the lengthy trail master planning process.

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