It’s official. The Port of Seattle Commissioners voted to approve the deal to purchase the Eastside Rail Corridor and preserve it in public ownership forever. You can read more about it here.
Monday, I joined Port Commissioner Tay Yoshitani, Port President John Creighton and the other Port Commissioners in Bellevue beneath the Wilburton Trestle along the rail corridor to thank them for their work on this effort. I also extended thanks to U.S. Senator Patty Murray for her support over the past couple years, Burlington Northern – Santa Fe CEO Matt Rose, King County’s Council and the community. It was wondeful to celebrate the historic moment.
We first started looking at this idea in 2006. After many discussions, changes, negotiations, and ideas from stakeholders, the King County Council unanimously approved the deal last week, followed by the Port. We had a signing ceremony in a fitting location along the corridor: beneath the Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Plans are being made right now for a public process to gather the community’s thoughts on what the corridor should look like, how it will be used and what should be considered when making decisions about it for the future. The Port will manage the public
process so watch their site and local news media for updates over the next year.
Sometimes the wheels of progress turn slowly, but they do turn. This week the King County Council closed the loop on an idea that I first started gathering input on in the fall of 2005: how to preserve what would come to be known as the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) in public ownership for future generations to enjoy.
This past weekend, the importance of the corridor was brought home to me again when a friend and I spent several hours biking the Cedar River Trail – another former rail corridor. We rode to the Renton Airport, then took the trail upriver to the Maple Valley area. Along the way, we passed people walking, biking, and pushing their kids in strollers as they enjoyed the morning.
Some people had clearly driven to the trail to take a walk, while others stepped right out their back door to stroll with a cup of coffee and enjoy their neighbors.
The Cedar River Trail connects to the Eastside Rail Corridor and they both offer amazing views of wildlife, forests and precious wetlands. The ERC also runs through six major economic centers on the eastside of Lake Washington, almost like a string of pearls on a chain. By keeping the corridor in public ownership, we are keeping open the possibility that true multi-use transportation, trail and rail, may one day link those pearls.
This project exemplifies the work we try to do in the county; bringing communities together, making it easy for people to have healthier lifestyles, preserving green space and wetlands and providing alternative ways of commuting.
In the end, just one vote away from preserving this land, we all feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and look forward to the next journey.