City of Kirkland moves forward with Cross Kirkland Corridor vision while preserving obligation for future possible freight use
On December 30, 2014, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision denying a request by Ballard Terminal Rail Company (“Ballard”) to reinstate freight rail service on a 11.2 mile portion of the Eastside Rail Corridor between Woodinville, WA and Bellevue, WA. Ballard’s request included the 5.75 mile portion that lies within Kirkland, WA, known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC), which is owned by the City of Kirkland. The STB found that Ballard did not have a specific plan to restore the line for freight service; did not demonstrate that it had the financial wherewithal to reinstitute freight service; and did not provide credible evidence of demand for renewed freight rail service along the line.
“This ruling is a tremendous victory for the Kirkland community and the Eastside Rail Corridor partners,” notes Kurt Triplett, Kirkland City Manager. “It vindicates the City’s strategy of vigorously defending our rights on the Cross Kirkland Corridor and to have it made available for public use.”
Ballard had filed its petition seeking to reactivate the rail line in April 2013. Ballard had also requested an injunction preventing the City of Kirkland from removing the rails on the CKC; the STB denied the injunction in August 2013. Kirkland proceeded to remove the rails and ties from the CKC, but Ballard continued to argue that it was entitled to reactivate freight service.
Since taking ownership of the CKC in April 2012, the City of Kirkland worked steadily to improve it for public use. Volunteer groups were organized to keep the CKC clean on a regular basis, the rails were removed in Summer 2013, a Master Plan was developed through extensive public involvement efforts and adopted in June 2014, and the completion of the CKC Interim Trail is expected in January 2015. For more about the CKC, visit www.kirklandwa.gov/crosskirklandcorridor.
The Eastside Rail Corridor is an abandoned rail line that passes through the cities of Newcastle, Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Maltby, Snohomish and Redmond. The Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway sold the 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor to the Port of Seattle and over the years, the Port has sold portions to King County, Sound Transit and the Cities of Kirkland, Redmond, and Woodinville.
As part of its purchase of the CKC and in compliance with the National Trails System Act, the City has acknowledged that the use of the right-of-way for trail purposes is subject to possible reconstruction and the future reactivation for rail service. To view the STB’s December 30, 2014 ruling, go to www.kirklandwa.gov/crosskirklandcorridor.