Guest Commentary | A trail now on the BNSF corridor?

By Debra Sinick

A trail now on the BNSF corridor? Over 40 people came out for last week's Eastside Trail Advocates meeting to hear about the possibilities of a trail on the corridor now, with a train, if needed at a later date.  The  ETA supports the publicly funded studies that have concluded commuter rail is not appropriate in the corridor for at least the near to mid-term future, which is 10 – 20 years.

The group believes:

"A pathway, with a much lower investment, makes sense now and in the future, whether a rail is in place or not."

The group is actively working towards that goal.

Lisa McConnell, a member of the steering committee for the Eastside Trail Advocates, talked about the benefits of the trail for the people of Kirkland and the eastside.  Not only would the trail unite communities, rather than divide them, it would be a place for non-motorized commuters, walkers and bikers, to head to work.    The Corridor as a trail would connect with The Burke Gilman  Trail and The Sammamish River Trail,  becoming a wonderful link to the eastside's existing network of trails.

Ms. McConnell spoke of the health benefits available to walkers, increased safety for school children crossing the trail to school, and the minimal impact the trail would have on parks and wetlands.

But the economic benefits are an added advantage many people don't consider. She sited several trails from other areas of the country that have had a big impact on economy, keeping jobs and money in the local communities.  The Houghton shopping area alone has over 50 businesses which could benefit from people walking/commuting on the trail.  When you add in Totem Lake and downtown Kirkland, the trail could be a great benefit to local businesses.

Matt Phelps from The Kirkland Reporter wrote an article which highlights many of the points brought up at last week's meeting.

(Correction to the Reporter story:  The ST2, The Sound Transit study, not ETA,  estimated the costs.  The correct costs are listed in the December, 2008 PSRC-Puget Sound Regional Council- Technical Report)

The ETA (Eastside Trail Advocates) will be speaking at tomorrow's Kirkland City Council meeting at 7:30 PM at City Hall, 123 Fifth Ave,  in the City Council's chambers.  Among the group's goals is to ask the Council to become involved with King County and The Port of Seattle in the planning for the corridor by assigning city staff to attend meetings to advocate for the trail, to develop a plan of action, and to search for funding.

Support the ETA by attending tomorrow night's City Council meeting, join the ETA or the ETA's Facebook Fan Page.   On February 20th from 10:30AM-12 noon, your voice can also be heard at a Town Hall at Kirkland City Hall meeting hosted by 45th District legislators, Senator Eric Oemig and Reps. Larry Springer and Roger Goodman.