Friday, November 01, 2013

Regional Advisory Council launches cooperative planning for Washington state's Eastside Rail Corridor

Washington state's Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council (RAC) has given its unanimous approval of a report affirming cooperation on future uses of the corridor.

 

The report, which was approved at the RAC's October 29 meeting, provides a summary of the RAC's work to date and calls for continued collaboration between the rail corridor owners.

"Transit riders' first benefits from this corridor will come in 2023 when Sound Transit opens the East Link light rail extension from Seattle to Bellevue and Overlake," said Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. "The longer-term potential is also exciting. The process that that Sound Transit just launched to update the regional transit Long-Range Plan will give the public a chance to help explore options."

The report summarizes recommendations from the first phase of the regional planning effort for what will become a multi-use corridor, offering connections for trails, high-capacity transit, potential freight reactivation, rail use and utilities for generations to come.

The report makes numerous recommendations, including:
creating a regional legacy for future generations, outlining plans to promote the corridor as a regional spine for mobility and economic development;
suggested regional policy framework for future decision making about the corridor, including plans to coordinate future transportation and development guidelines along the corridor; approaches to constraints and opportunities offering guidance to address some of the challenges and opportunities in the corridor and continued community outreach to ensure that plans created for the corridor reflect community values.

The report also describes the RAC's vision for the corridor, the corridor's history and the process used by the RAC to develop these recommendations.

"We have reached a milestone that is another important step toward sustainability for our community and its citizens. Literally and figuratively, we are creating a corridor which will connect people with jobs, services and recreational opportunities within their community," said RAC Co-Chair and King County Councilmember Jane Hague. "At the same time, we are preserving the opportunity for future uses of the corridor that can benefit our entire region, a legacy for generations to come."

The report also summarizes the current conditions in the corridor, describes current uses adjacent to the corridor, the major constraints that will need to be resolved, such as pinch points, steep slopes and narrow trestles. Opportunities for connections are also identified in the report, including existing or future trails, high-capacity transit, parks and utility corridors, plus significant plans of neighboring communities that could affect the corridor.

Part of a 42-mile rail line that was owned by BNSF, the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) extends from Renton north to Snohomish, passing through Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville and portions of unincorporated King County. It also includes Redmond Spur, which extends seven-plus miles from Woodinville south to Redmond. The owners of the ERC – King County, Redmond, Kirkland, Sound Transit and Puget Sound Energy – have come together to collaboratively plan for the future of this important multi-use corridor.

The report of the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council is available here.

 

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