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Port of Seattle announces new partners in rail corridor

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The Port of Seattle will be joined by several local agencies in preserving the Eastside Rail Corridor and placing it in public ownership. King County, Sound Transit, the City of Redmond, Puget Sound Energy, and the Cascade Water Alliance will partner with the port in maximizing the corridor's benefit for the region.

The six partners signed a
memorandum of understanding Nov. 5 that outlines the components of the plan.
The governing boards of each organization must also authorize the negotiations.
The port’s acquisition of the corridor is scheduled to close Dec. 15.

"The port’s goal has
always been to help place the corridor into public ownership," said Port of Seattle
CEO Tay Yoshitani. "It would be impossible to recreate a similar asset today,
and we need to protect it for the region’s citizens. We’ve formed a consortium
that ensures the best use of the property for the future."

The 42-mile corridor
stretches from Snohomish to Renton, with a short spur that goes through the
city of Redmond. The Port of Seattle will maintain freight service between
Snohomish and Woodinville. King County and Sound Transit will acquire rights in
the southern section between Woodinville and Renton. The southern portion of
the track will be preserved for dual transportation and recreation uses under
the federal rail-banking program. King County intends to develop a bike and
walking path along portions of the corridor.

"The diversity of the
partnership demonstrates the value of this corridor to the people of this region,"
said King County Executive Kurt Triplett. "This once-in-a-lifetime investment
will improve the region’s quality of life, creating a legacy for generations to
come."

"Putting this corridor in
public ownership supports Sound Transit’s upcoming East Link light rail construction
and other possible long-term transit investments in the corridor," said Sound
Transit CEO Joni Earl. "Sound Transit’s interest is to protect needed right of
way for the future."

The City of Redmond will
acquire some rights along a small section of the track known as the Redmond
spur. Redmond Mayor John Marchione noted how the city would benefit from its involvement
with the partnership.

"Acquiring an interest in
the corridor allows us to connect to the heart of our downtown and build a
stronger community for our citizens," Marchione said.

Regional utilities Puget
Sound Energy and Cascade Water Alliance will negotiate easements for their
facilities and services along the corridor – easements that are crucial for future
service and growth.

"Puget Sound Energy is
pleased to join this vital effort in preserving this corridor for public use
while also preserving our utility easements and service to area customers,"
said Stephen P. Reynolds, PSE president and CEO. "We have more than 180 pipe
and wire crossings in the existing corridor and need to make sure that our
investment is protected for our customers now and in the future."

"Cascade is proud to be a
part of this regional solution which not only preserves an important public
corridor but ensures Cascade’s ongoing ability to provide water to our
customers today and in the future," said Lloyd Warren, chair of Cascade Water
Alliance’s Board of Directors.

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