11-12-09 article

here is the article as published in the Seattle Times:


City to acquire Redmond spur of Eastside Rail Corridor

At meetings about the changing face of downtown Redmond, a recurring question has been, "What’s the city going to do with the old train tracks?"

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On Nov. 5, the City of Redmond was among several local agencies to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to preserve the Eastside Rail Corridor and place it in public ownership. The other partners in the MOU are The Port of Seattle, King County, Sound Transit, Puget Sound Energy and the Cascade Water Alliance. The governing boards of each organization must authorize the negotiations and the port’s acquisition of the corridor is scheduled to close Dec. 15.

Redmond Parks and Recreation director Craig Larsen called acquisition of the Redmond spur of the rail corridor "the lynchpin to a high-quality downtown."

Larsen explained, "For a long time, since the corridor stopped being used for rail transit — moving people and goods — it has split the city in half, cut off Redmond Town Center from the rest of the town."

The MOU "removes this anomaly in the middle of our city and allows us to adopt changes such as returning Cleveland Street and Redmond Way to two-way streets," Larsen added.

The downtown portion of the railroad corridor, which parallels Cleveland Street, will now be available to create a regional trail. And by incorporating pieces of the adjacent land into the city’s planned street grid pattern, "we can pull in Redmond Town Center, make it way easier to get around downtown," said Larsen.

The city plans to run utility, sewer and water lines under the corridor and part will be available for the expected addition of light rail in the future.

Larsen noted that the existing tracks are not suitable for modern light rail usage but the city has right-of-way for a portion of the land that abuts those tracks.

He also remarked that the city had budgeted $10-12 million for the Redmond spur acquisition, "with all the partners pledging different potential amounts," and that the actual cost to Redmond will likely be $9 million or less.

For additional information about the MOU and the rail corridor, visit www.portseattle.org.

This article was originally published in the Redmond Reporter on November 11, 2009.