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Port of Seattle to acquire BNSF rail corridor

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The Port of Seattle Commission approved a Memorandum of Understanding with King County and BNSF that will result in the Port's acquisition and receipt by donation of the 42-mile Eastside rail corridor in King and Snohomish counties from the railroad. Acquisition of the southern corridor for the public is one of the largest and most significant in the history of the federal rail-banking program.

Under this
MOU, the Port would lease the corridor to King County, which would then develop
a major public-access trail on the southern portion of the corridor that is
within the County. The trail would connect to approximately 130 miles of
existing trails and to sidewalks and streets in Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland,
Redmond and Woodinville.

Key points
in the MOU are:

• The
Port’s acquisition for $103 million and receipt by donation of the corridor
consisting of the freight corridor north of Woodinville to the City of
Snohomish and the corridor south of Woodinville to Renton, together with a spur
to Redmond.

• The
Port’s intent to negotiate a long-term lease on the property with King County
so that the County can develop biking and walking trails from Renton to
Woodinville.

• Commercial
freight use will continue on the section from Woodinville to Snohomish.

• Transfer
of the Fisher Flour Mill site located on Harbor Island from the County to the
Port.

• The
County agrees to consult with the Port regarding future significant development
at King County International Airport (KCIA).

"The
Port Commission supports this agreement because it preserves a critical
transportation corridor in public ownership, ensuring that future transportation
needs can be met as the east side of King County continues to grow," said
Port Commission President John Creighton. "And in the interim, we can help
the County provide an important amenity for our citizens."

"This
is a legacy agreement that will contribute to people’s quality of life
forever," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "The Port is making an
extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime investment for the people and economic
mobility of the region. The commissioners’ foresight for the future as demonstrated
by this vote is visionary."

An
important element of the transaction for the Port is the transfer of the Fisher
Flour Mill site, near Terminal 10. "This property is strategically located
near other Port holdings on Harbor Island, and it makes perfect sense for the
Port to own it," said Port CEO Tay Yoshitani, "And it helps make the
deal a win-win for all parties."

The
Port and the County will continue advocating for improvements to freight
mobility in the region.

"BNSF
looks forward to continuing to work with King County and now the Port of
Seattle to advance their plans for the region and is pleased that this BNSF
right of way can continue to serve the public and contribute to advancing their
goals for the future of the corridor," said BNSF President and Chief
Executive Officer Matthew K. Rose.

The
MOU calls for the County and the Port to develop a ‘consultative process’ for
considering major capital improvements at KCIA that would result in substantial
regional impacts.

The
County will construct a regional trail on the Eastside corridor in a way that
considers future transportation needs of the region. Trail development is
estimated to cost $44 million.

The details
outlined in the MOU will be submitted for approval by the Metropolitan King
County Council and the Port Commission no later than December 11, with final
closing of the transaction by July 2008.

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