Opinion

Eastside Rail Corridor purchase the right decision for Kirkland | Editorial

The City of Kirkland voted to purchase the old BNSF corridor seen here during the Connect Kirkland Treasure Hunt/Walk May 22. - Contributed
The City of Kirkland voted to purchase the old BNSF corridor seen here during the Connect Kirkland Treasure Hunt/Walk May 22.
— image credit: Contributed

Kirkland will soon own nearly 5.5 miles of the Eastside Rail Corridor that city officials hope to turn into a biking and hiking trail with views of Lake Washington.

In the more distant future, the corridor could also be used for bus or light rail.

The Kirkland City Council made the right decision when it unanimously approved the $5 million purchase of the abandoned rail line from the Port of Seattle on Monday.

The vote means city officials – and the residents they represent – will now have the say-so about what to do with Kirkland’s segment of rail line.

And this has many implications for our city’s economic vitality and future.

Kirkland has the potential to connect with the region.

The 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor represents a trail backbone that connects Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Woodinville and Snohomish.

Former King County Executive Ron Sims heralded the rail line as “the granddaddy of all regional trails.”

Once Kirkland’s segment is turned into a biking and hiking trail, it will connect with other regional trails, including the Burke-Gilman, East Lake Sammamish, Interurban and Snoqualmie Valley trails.

Kirkland’s segment of rail line also goes through the heart of three major Kirkland business districts. Whether by trail or transit, the segment would connect the region with those districts – including Kirkland’s “economic engine” – Totem Lake.

Beyond regional connectivity, the purchase also improves local access.

The trail would connect bicycle commuters with the South Kirkland Park and Ride and the Google campus.

For a city that touts pedestrian-friendly with yellow flags at many crosswalks, the trail would also improve the city’s pedestrian landscape.

And in a community as active as Kirkland, a new dedicated biking/hiking trail would provide more safety for many bicyclists and pedestrians.

The need for safer bike facilities is no more evident than with the two cases we’ve reported on this year involving bicyclists who were killed by vehicles – including this week.

Of course, there are many financial struggles that the city will have to work through to fund the project. This will not be easy.

And city officials and residents will have to determine the best way to use the rail line, whether that’s both a hiking and biking trail and rail.

Whatever the outcome, Monday’s decision gives us the power to have our say and control the rail line’s destiny.

Sound off

What would you like Kirkland’s segment of rail line to be used for? A trail? Rail? Both? Send your thoughts to: letters@kirklandreporter.com

 

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