Letter | Keep Trail, Drop Rail from Kirkland’s BNSF Corridor Interest Statement

The City should drop any language in its Eastside Rail Corridor Interest Statement related to motorized transportation along the corridor

The  "'Summary of Interests", within the '…Draft Interest Statement', is a very good wish-list of reasons why citizens should focus on the future use of the BNSF Corridor.  However, it does not provide solid arguments to support its conclusion:  " Ultimately, the best use of the corridor is as the site of a welcoming, transportation-oriented facility for pedestrians and bicyclists and a high capacity transit system that connects Kirkland to the region. Ideally, trail and transit users could use the corridor simultaneously."   This is a major flaw that reinforces the false idea that creating something comparable to the James Bond's car, that could fly and be a submarine at the same time, is the best goal for Kirkland.

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Let's leave aside, for a moment, ALL the technical, economic, and potential commuter considerations. We can now actually SEE  EXACTLY what "THE BEST POSSIBLE"development of a dual-use would look like along most of our very narrow Eastside BNSF corridor, IF we had unlimited funds to do it. Check out this video of the SMART dual-use project in Marin County. THEN, ask yourself WHO would be happy with such a corridor in Kirkland?  How many families, kids, seniors would use it? How good/safe would it be for bikers themselves? What would the WALL do to the city, even if it were as fancy as the one in Marin County?

Eventually, of course, one must still deal with the 'pesky reality' of costs, expected commuter numbers, and congestion mitigation on I-405.  You've probably seen that they don't remotely add up, and  they won't for many decades, if ever.  But, does concept really work in Marin County? This is what Allen Tacy of Petaluma, chairman of the Friends of SMART, said about the projections for the use of the bike path, on July 8, 2010:  "The use of the trail is expected to be twice the train, 55,000 will use the trail and 26,000 will use the train". "It (biker use) is a real significant feature."   (At the end of an article in PressDemocrat.com. Link:http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100708/NEWS/7081028)

Still unconvinced? Think for a moment about what makes the Sammamish River Trail so attractive to bikers, skaters, joggers, families, and pedestrians, both local and non-local.  Can you imagine Redmond laying down a bus lane alongside it to improve the transportation to Woodinville by reducing the traffic on the Woodinville-Redmond Rd and Avondale Rd NE ?  Why is it that Redmond doesn't even want to use the BNSF Spur for train transportation between the two cities?  Both of those 'trail' areas are flatter, wider, more open, farther away from buildings, and with a lot fewer pinch-points than the BNSF corridor.

My conclusion:  The opportunity cost for the city is too high in terms of livability, pedestrian connectivity (neighborhoods, parks , schools, etc.), and expected deterioration of car/bus circulation. For those reasons, the City should drop any language in the '…Interest…" document related to motorized transportation along the corridor.  The law dealing with 'banking' old railroad lines ensures that rail-use will indefinitely remain as an option for the city/county, if and when the County can make the case that it makes sense.

Regardles of which side of the argument you favor, please do make your views known to City Hall in the related article in Kirkland Views titled: Eastside Rail Corridor Draft Interest Statement Released.

Shawn Etchevers