12-21-09 Press Release

port website

December 21, 2009
For Immediate Release
Charla Skaggs, Port of Seattle
206.787.3235 office
206.610.9982 pager

Frank Abe, King County
206.263.9609 office
Port of Seattle Acquires Rail Corridor from BNSF for $81 million
King County, Sound Transit, other partners will contribute to purchase
The Port of Seattle finalized acquisition of the Eastside Rail Corridor from BNSF Railway today, after nearly two years of negotiations. Final cost for the northern section of the 42-mile corridor between Woodinville and Snohomish was approximately $81 million. BNSF donated the southern portion of the corridor between Woodinville and Renton and the Redmond Spur that goes through the City of Redmond.

"The port’s goal has always been to preserve the corridor and place it in public ownership and we’ve accomplished that goal," said Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani. "I’m grateful to BNSF for their willingness to work with the port, and to our partner agencies for joining us in the effort."

"This acquisition preserves an irreplaceable asset, addresses growing transportation needs, and provides the chance to expand our regional trail system," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "This allows us to take advantage of a rare opportunity, an intact corridor that runs through the Eastside."

"BNSF is very pleased that the transaction is complete, and that the Puget Sound region will benefit from the corridor," said Gus Melonas, spokesman for the railroad.

The port will be joined by several local agencies in maximizing the corridor’s benefit for the entire region. King County, Sound Transit, the City of Redmond, Puget Sound Energy, and the Cascade Water Alliance will partner with the port, with each agency acquiring an interest in the rail line corridor. Negotiations determining each partner’s investment in the property will begin in the coming months.

Freight service will be maintained between Snohomish and Woodinville through an agreement between the Port of Seattle and a third-party operator. King County and Sound Transit will acquire rights in the southern section between Woodinville and Renton, and in the Redmond Spur. The southern and Redmond Spur portions of the track will be preserved for both transportation and recreation uses under the federal rail banking program. King County intends to develop a regional trail along portions of the corridor. Sound Transit will own a section of track adjacent to downtown Bellevue for use in building the East Link light rail line and will have easements for potential future public transit service on the southern and Redmond Spur sections of the corridor.

The City of Redmond will acquire rights in the portion of the Redmond Spur that is located within the City.

Regional utilities PSE and CWA will negotiate easements for their facilities and services along the corridor – easements that are crucial for existing and future service and growth.

Find more details about the rail corridor here.