King County Council approved Eastside Rail Corridor master plan

The Metropolitan King County Council passed the Eastside Rail Corridor’s Trail Master Plan, taking the next step in making the trail system a reality.

The Eastside Rail Corridor is along the former BNSF rail line that runs 42 miles from Snohomish County to Renton. A pedestrian and cycling trail has be discussed for years along the trail, and with the passing of the master plan, work could begin soon.

The key to the trail is a 16.7 miles of new trail through the urban Eastside.

King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci spoke about the proposed car-free corridor.

“I am excited to approve the Trail Master Plan so we can finally roll up our sleeves and get to work on creating one of the most unique corridors in the country,” said Balducci, the Chair of the Eastside Rail Corridor’s Regional Advisory Committee. “We will be connecting thousands of residents up and down the Eastside to transit, trail, recreation and economic development opportunities.”

According to a release from King County, the trail’s master plan is focused on the “trail portion of the multi-use vision while maintaining room for other uses and economic development and educational opportunities directly adjacent to the corridor, like the Global Innovation Exchange and REI’s corporate headquarters.”

For those latter draws, and for the scenic Wilburton Trestle, Bellevue is the keystone in the trail, which passes through Woodinville, Kirkland, Redmond and unincorpoated Snohomish and King counties.

Last year, King County Executive Dow Constantine said the trestle would be preserved.

“The iconic Wilburton Trestle will be the symbol of the world-class regional trail system we’re creating along the Eastside Rail Corridor,” he said. “We’re repurposing the historic trestle into a premier public asset that will provide commuters, cyclists, runners and pedestrians with a spectacular view of the Eastside skyline.”

The trail corridor project is anticipated to be completed by 2020, just in time for REI’s headquarters move to Bellevue’s nascent Spring District.

“This Master Trail Plan is an important milestone in the development of this great treasure for all of King County,” said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “I’m looking forward to the day when the entire corridor is completed and being used by many. Until then it’s encouraging to see the progress that is being made every day and this is just one more very important step in that journey.”

The project is being backed by $5 million in state funding, $2 million from King County, $2 million from the city of Bellevue and $500,000 each from the Puget Sound Regional Council and Group Health Cooperative. The total cost of the project is estimated at $13.2 million.