The Cascade Bicycle Club has been pushing hard for a bike trail without rails on the BNSF corridor, while some transit advocates have been pushing for the rails to remain in case future rail goes through that corridor. The County Council will take public comment on the issue in their meeting tomorrow and again on May 5th. Some details here.

5 Replies to “County wants your Opinion on Eastside Rail”

  1. If the rails are torn up to make room for a trail forget ever using the corridor for anything else.

    Heck there’d likely be a fight to use a short section of the ROW near Overlake hospital for East Link if a trail goes in.

    This despite the fact that the ROW is quite wide between NE 8th and 520.

    Mind you I have nothing against bike trails and am a cyclist myself. But we need to preserve rail ROW until we’re damn sure we don’t need it before converting it to trails.

  2. Has there been any cases of trails,nationally,(rail banks) being converted back to rails?

  3. Would the trail connect to burke-gilman? If they could do that you’d get a nice loop around the north end of the lake.

  4. Daimajin, claiming that CBC does not want rail is a whopper of the first order and is completely inaccurate! CBC has advocated for joint rail with trail FROM THE BEGINNING of the PSRC project – it has never (NEVER) envisioned a corridor on the Eastside that sacrificed rail for trail. CBC has a letter from Chuck Ayres, Exec. Director of CBC to the Port of Seattle reiterating that point on their website.

    One can argue whether the retention of old and obsolete rail constitutes “keeping rail” on the corridor (I believe it does not), but Cascade (and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, which also participated on the PSRC Technical Committee for the Eastside BNSF Project has been adamant that BOTH rail and trail be a part of the corridor’s future.

    The trail serves to hold the property intact – we can wait many years for a rail service to begin under the rosiest of scenarios, even with diesel railcars. Trails are easily moved to accoomodate a new rail line once built, and this corridor can start serving commuting cyclists very soon, and likely in numbers comparable if not exceeding (see earlier post on Marin SMART Coridor) rail transit in the near term. Commuting, by the way, represents 47% of bicycle traffic on the Burke Gilman – up to 4,000 commuters daily.

    To answer the question of returning trail corridors to rail, yes, a number of corridors nationally that were railbanked under the national Rail to Trails Act have returned to rail use, usually with a trail alongside. In Washington, the Stampede Pass route was similarly preserved, although a trail was never built in that area. Without the RTT Act, that line would have been lost.

    This is a wider line in most areas than the Burke Gilman (and yes, it will meet the BGT Sammamish Corridor in Woodinville)- there is no reason why the two functions can’t co-exist.

    Please – do not misrepresent the intentions and actions of organizations who are more allied with your cause than you think!

    Phil Miller

  5. I’m glad Phil Miller posted, because my understanding was that CBC supported rail on the BNSF Eastside corridor. It seems they do support it, just not on the existing (degraded) tracks.

    I’m a daily bicycle commuter and CBC member, who is skeptical about the transit uses for this line, but I want rail preserved here. I prefer retaining the existing rail and designing the bike trail around it, and then upgrading the rail when/if a decision is made to do so. If rail isn’t viable right now for economic reasons, I would only support a bike trail that planned for eventual rail on the corridor.

    I’m still skeptical it makes sense as a commuter route, but with rising energy prices it’s possible that we’ll need the freight route in a generation even if it’s never useful for transit.

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