LETTER | Cross-Kirkland Corridor (The Trail That Wasn't) A Tale of Two Delusions

 

Editor:

The Second Delusion... that a meandering, old trail, crossing many intersections, causing even more traffic problems and safety concerns, would be a better solution than using the I-405 corridor.

A few years ago BNSF decided to sell its unprofitable freight line on the Eastside, part of which ran through Kirkland. Sound Transit and the City ofKirkland were very interested. Kirkland put up $5 million and Sound Transit wanted an easement for possible futurecommuter light rail. After a lengthy debate, it was decided to remove the existing old rails and put in a gravel path. This was where the First Delusion made its appearance. Kirkland residents, as well as the city council, assumed that, since the old freight route, now an actual scenic path, was unsuitable for commuter light rail, Sound Transit would never opt to put rapid transit there. Kirkland would have its own beautiful trail, similar to the Burke-Gilman and Marymoor Park trails! It would be a wonderful experience and legacy for Kirkland residents and their children and grandchildren. 

But alas, it was not to be. It was just an illusion, a mirage. The Eastside population was growing and, along with it, more traffic which became bumper-to-bumper on some city streets. Something must be done! City councils and Sound Transit had to come up with a solution. But wait... there was the old freight line route, now called the "Cross-Kirkland Corridor". That was the answer! 

To get people out of their cars, two factors need to be satisfied... convenience and frequency.

And here enters the Second Delusion... that a meandering, old trail, crossing many intersections, causing even more traffic problems and safety concerns, would be a better solution than using the I-405 corridor. Part of the Second Delusion is that it would entice a significant number of commuters out of their cars (when history shows it would decrease auto use by maybe 1% - 2%). Also part of the Second Delusion was that a walking and cycling path could co-exist alongside a railroad or bus line. When the City of Kirkland realized the possibility of Sound Transit putting a rail line down the trail they pushed for what they thought would be the lesser of two evils... a bus line. Although buses would be quiter and somewhat less obtrusive than light rail, it would be the same outcome... diminished or non-existent use as a walking or cycling trail. In the end it would be the worst of both worlds. There would be no real solution to the traffic problem and there would be no scenic trail.

To get people out of their cars, two factors need to be satisfied... convenience and frequency. This is the case in New York City for instance, where you have bus stops every two blocks and subway stations every five blocks on average. Cars are not needed and are mostly a hindrance. This, of course, is an extreme example. But why not consider the I-405 corridor as an alternative and have shuttle buses, with bus stops every few blocks and buses or vans coming every ten minutes. It would be similar to shuttle buses and shuttle trains at an airport, coming every few minutes.

Please, let's not do something just to "do something"! Let's get it right, think it through and be logical.

Thanks.

Anthony Cresci