Debra Sinick

Archive for the ‘rails to trails’ Category

The Cross Kirkland Trail is Here!

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on April 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm

The Cross Kirkland Trail is here! Kudos to the City Council and Kurt Triplett for having the vision and foresight to save the corridor for a trail for Kirkland and all of the eastside.  As many of you know, last Friday, April 13th, the 5.75 miles inside Kirkland city limits became the property of Kirkland.  It’s an exciting time as barriers have gone up where the trail crosses roads, safety features are incorporated in the overpasses and the rail crossing markers are gone.

Posts about the acquisition of the line this past week.

Walking Along the BNSF corridor in Kirkland

Walking On The Cross Kirkland Trail

But this is a project near and dear to me, something I’ve been advocating over the last 5 years.  I began writing about the corridor and the trail vs. rail issue in 2007.  I’ve written close to 40 posts on the subject, from the last hurrah for the dinner train, the Port of Seattle’s involvement, the first opportunity to walk on the trail, and the City Council voting to purchase the corridor.

A special thanks to the Eastside Trail Advocates, a local group who worked hard to see this vision happen in Kirkland by sponsoring the first walk on the the proposed trail, speaking at City Council and neighborhood meetings, and holding open houses to demonstrate the value of a trail for the city.

See you on the trail!

A New Trail is Coming to Kirkland!

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on December 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

A Cross Kirkland Trail?  It’s now many steps closer to reality after last night’s unanimous vote by the Kirkland City Council to purchase the 5+ miles of the BNSF corridor that runs through the city.  Thank you to the entire City Council and City Manager Kurt Triplett for having the foresight to preserve this piece of land for all of Kirkland to use in the future.  The Cross Kirkland trail will connect our neighborhoods and shopping areas via a fabulous walking trail.  It will be a terrific addition the Kirkland lifestyle, offering a place to walk from one end of the city to the other.  Walking trails are a huge plus to many in today’s world as people try to find fun ways to get out of their cars and onto their two feet.

I’m personally excited and thrilled for the City of Kirkland.  I started writing about this issue way back in the spring of 2007 because the corridor wraps around the northern and western boundary of our neighborhood.   I’ve written 28 posts over the years about what was to be the latest and greatest with the trail.  I’m looking forward to future posts, which will be about the plans to develop the trail along the corridor.   Woo Hoo!  See you out on the trail!

The BNSF Corridor before it becomes a trail

Fun on the what will be the future Cross Kirkland Trail

Walking Along the BNSF corridor in Kirkland

Walking Along What Will Be The Future Cross Kirkland Trail

Connect Kirkland on a First Ever Opportunity to Walk the BNSF Corridor

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on May 9, 2011 at 7:17 am
Kirkland's BNSF corridor

BNSF Corridor Through KIrkland Is a Great Place for a Trail

Eastside Trail Advocates is pleased to be partnering with Cascade Orienteering Club for this exciting event!   This is a great opportunity to truly see the benefits of connecting Kirkland by converting the BNSF corridor to a safe, paved, pedestrian friendly trail, for walking, biking and commuting (people power of course!).  Bring your family, friends and neighbors for this fun event.

WHAT: Connect Kirkland, a run/walk event to help Kirkland residents connect with each other, our past, and the neighborhood attractions around us within walking distance from a possible future community trail.

WHEN: Sunday, May 22, from 11:00 AM-2:00PM (Registration starts at 10:00)

WHERE: The Start is where 108th Avenue NE crosses the railroad tracks by the South Kirkland Park & Ride. There will be signs from the Park & Ride.

WHY: This is the first time that the old BNSF corridor has been formally opened to the public for exploration and enjoyment. Kirkland is a town bisected again and again by I-405, numerous four-lane thoroughfares, and an abandoned railway line. To get anyplace, you pretty much need to hop into a car.

And yet, connecting most of the Kirkland neighborhoods is an unused, public-owned right-of-way that goes right past at least four schools, half a dozen parks, and two shopping centers. We have a Kirkland Active Transportation plan that emphasizes the value of pedestrian-friendly communities. And if this right-of-way were developed into a trail, it would form the backbone of a safe, eastside trail network for recreational and commuting bike use.

WHAT TO EXPECT: It’s like a scavenger hunt in South Kirkland. At registration (bring $4 and a pen), you’ll get a detailed map of the southern part of the corridor, with numerous locations marked that you can visit to answer questions. Along the way, you’ll discover Kirkland art, some of our history, some parks, and maybe even some neighbors who also like to get outdoors.

Registration starts at 10:00, on the corridor next to South Kirkland Park & Ride, and there’s a mass start at 11:00. In between, there will be tables from local organizations involved in outdoor activities, and a chance to meet some of your Kirkland neighbors. When you’re out exploring, you are welcome to visit as many of the checkpoints as you wish, speeding through the course competitively or taking time to enjoy parks and shops along the way. The finish line shuts down at 2:00 PM, but it’s your event, and your day walking through southern Kirkland.  Picture a connected Kirkland.

For more information on Connecting Kirkland on the BNSF corridor, check out our Facebook page.

How Do We Keep Kirkland More Livable?

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails, Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 10:36 am

Kudos to Kirkland for being one of the top ten cities in the country for livability because of its walkability.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on the changing landscape of the suburbs. The suburbs that mirror the amenities of a big city are the ones on the rise.  Kirkland is one of the top ten.

The suburbs that have continued to prosper during the downturn share many attributes with the best urban neighborhoods: walkability, vibrant street life, density and diversity. The clustering of people and firms is a basic engine of modern economic life. When interesting people encounter each other, they spark new ideas and accelerate the formation of new enterprises. Renewing the suburbs will require retrofitting them for these new ways of living and working.

Why is this so important for now and our future as a vibrant city?

These are the places where Americans are clamoring to live and where housing prices have held up even in the face of one of the greatest real-estate collapses in modern memory. More than that, as my colleague Charlotta Mellander and I found when we looked into the statistics, the U.S. metro areas with walkable suburbs have greater economic output and higher incomes, more highly educated people, and more high-tech industries, to say nothing of higher levels of happiness.

There are opportunities to keep our city attractive and exciting.  It’s important to do so for our very livelihood and livability. 

I love Kirkland, particularly for what makes it so unique as a community on Seattle’s eastside. I suspect Lake Washington Boulevard is one of the main reasons Kirkland landed in the top ten of livable cities. We’ve got a vibrant waterfront area and this great boulevard to walk with some amazing views of the Seattle, Lake Washington, and the mountains.

Walking in Kirkland WA

Walking Along Kirkland's Lake Washington Boulevard on a sunny day

Kirkland is unique on the eastside with its great public access to the lake that’s enjoyed by so many.

Enjoying Lake Washington in Kirkland

Walking on a path next to Lake Washington

It would behoove the region, not just Kirkland, to continue developing what people want in their communities.  The struggle to remain viable as a community is critical to our overall economic and individual health and vitality.  The BNSF corridor is the perfect opportunity to expand on Kirkland’s, and the eastside’s, access to walking and biking trails.

Kirkland-BNSF rail line

Walking Along The BNSF Rail Corridor

Imagine people zipping down the trail to work.  Imagine stopping at Starbucks or Metropolitan Market to grab a snack or a cup of coffee after a nice long walk.  Imagine the dollars spent in Kirkland by people who enjoy recreational opportunities right in the city.  Think how much business is brought into downtown Kirkland by all the people who come here to walk along the boulevard.  One only has to see how many people jam The Sammamish River Trail on any given day to see the positive impact that trail has had on Redmond.  We can duplicate that positive energy and environment here in Kirkland.

Here’s what Portland, Oregon has done with their streets. Berkley, CA has bicycle boulevards.

We’re so fortunate here because we don’t have to worry about just using city streets for bicycling.  While we still need city streets here in Kirkland for bicyclists, we have the BNSF corridor to build upon!  If you listen to these videos, and bicyclists in general, they are concerned about cars and safety.  The corridor would help to eliminate some of these concerns.

Times have changed.  We need to pay attention to how this affects our thinking, our planning, and our future growth and development.  Every community’s future, including Kirkland’s, depends on listening to what people like and want in their communities.  Kirkland’s amenities are what draws people to want to work, live, and play here. Let’s not lose sight of this and incorporate positive growth, development, and livability with the resources on our doorstep.


What’s Your Vision for The BNSF Corridor?

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on September 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Do you care about the quality of life in Kirkland, WA?  How do you see the BNSF corridor being used? The Kirkland City Council wants to hear from you.

Rail to Trail in Kirkland

BNSF Corridor in Kirkland

Voice your opinion now.  It’s very important to let the City Council know where you stand.  A diesel train going through Kirkland will change our quality of life, particularly here in The Highlands.  A rail line will cut us off from other neighborhoods and impact the kids walking to Peter Kirk Elementary and Kirkland Junior High.

A trail, on the other hand,  would be a great addition to the quality of life Kirkland offers.  We have the wonderful parks, lake access, beaches, and interesting small town feel, but we do not have a world class trail which be a great benefit to the community’s health.  More people could walk or bike to work if there was a trail available.  Think of the people who use the Sammamish River Trail or the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Think of all the people who move to homes nearby the trail because it’s such an asset.

Hearing from you, the public,  helps this cause to become something very real.

Come on Down To Kirkland Highlands Neighborhood Meeting on March 17th

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on March 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Wednesday, March 17

Highlands Neighborhood Meeting

7 pm
Maintenance Center

915 8th St.

* Presentation about the railroad trail status- hear about the benefits of a trail for the whole eastside along the BNSF corridor.

* Discussion with Chief of Police Eric Olsen: working together effectively with our police department.
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Kirkland Highlands Cotton Hill Park path

Kirkland Highlands WA Cotton Hill

Saturday, March 20
Cotton Hill Park Planting Event
9 – noon
Join Earthcorps, Green Kirkland, UW-REN and your neighbors for another
FUN planting event!
Bring water bottle, gloves, wear boots, and dress for the weather
Tools provided

What’s Really Going On With The Eastside’s BNSF Rail Line?

In Kirkland WA, rails to trails on February 5, 2010 at 2:30 pm

The following is a copy of my post on Kirkland Views regarding the most recent information to come to light about the rail corridor that runs through many eastside cities. The big question we are all facing right now:  “Will a private rail group try to buy or take over the line for commuter rail without going through the proper public process?’  Check out the link below to The Seattle Times article which reports on the active effort to put a train on the line in 6 months to a year.

It seemed like a done deal, the news media reported the sale of the BNSF line to The Port of Seattle at the close of 2009 with plans to sell the line to King County in 2010.

Seattle-Eastside BNSF Rail Line

Keith Ervin of the Seattle Times said,

After acquiring the rail line (which the Port has now done), the Port would sell the southern portion to King County and other buyers.

According to the news media, King County had planned to use funds from The Conservation Futures Fund to pay for the purchase. All was well and good on Seattle’s eastside.  The rail line might be developed as a trail with the possibility of future rail, if needed.

The Bellevue Reporter stated in a November, 2009 article:

County Executive-elect Dow Constantine said the agreement will fulfill a promise to the region that the Eastside Rail Corridor will receive long-term protection from development and that it will be made available for recreational uses.

“By keeping this key transportation and recreational corridor in public ownership, we are making a major commitment to our shared future in King County,” Constantine said.

However, a King County official recently said the County Conservation Futures funds slated to purchase the line can only be used for dedicated green space, not if there’s the possibility of a future rail line.

Herein, lies the dilemma.  The line must be rail banked to meet federal requirements.  So the Conservation Futures Fund might not be the source of funds to buy the rail line.

Conservation Futures Tax (CFT) levy funds are collected from property taxes levied throughout King County and its cities for the purchase and permanent protection of open space lands.

Is there a private group working very hard to put a commuter line on the rail line? Most people do not realize there’s an active group out there hard at work, hoping to acquire the rights to put a commuter rail line on the existing tracks.  The talk is to put a commuter line on the tracks that currently exist, even though they are in poor repair.

So here are my questions:

  • Will King County close on the deal and buy the rail line?
  • How will this acquisition be funded?
  • Will the line become a trail, with the line rail banked for possible future motorized travel?
  • Will a private concern put Commuter rail, DMU’s, Diesel Motor Units, not light rail on the line?
  • Will the line become a dual use trail/train?
  • Will the proper public process be followed to determine the best use of the line?

How can you find out about the future of the BNSF rail line?

Join the Eastside Trail Advocates at:

The Houghton Fire Station

6602 108th Ave NE, Kirkland

February 10th at 7 PM

Join Eastside Trail Advocates on Facebook to be learn about the latest updates.

Hot Sales Price of the Week for Kirkland Home Sales, 1-27-10

In buyers, Kirkland WA, Kirkland, WA Real Estate, market statistics, rails to trails, sellers on January 29, 2010 at 9:41 am

The hot price range of the week in Kirkland?   $400-499,999 and $500-599,999

  • Most number of home sales in Kirkland: $400-499,999 and $500-599,999 4 sales each.
  • Most number of homes for sale  $1000-1,499,999 with 40 homes for sale.
  • Exciting news $1,500,000-$1,999,999-3 homes sold.
  • There were 315 homes for sale in Kirkland and 19 homes sold last week.  There’s been good sales activity each week of 2010.
  • Most number of homes for sale in the last 7 weeks:  12-16-09,  342 homes for sale.
  • Highest number of homes sold in Kirkland in the last 7 weeks:   last week, 1-20-10,  with 24 homes sold.

  • Peak  of homes and condos for sale in King County in 2009?
  • July 27th marked a high of 13,861 homes and condos for sale in King County.
  • Week of 1-18-10   10,743  There are now almost 1000 more homes and condos for sale in King  County than the first week of the year.

There are less than 100 days to use the home buyer’s tax credit. If you’re going to sell your home, do it soon, so you can take advantage of more buyer activity.  Even with the increase in the number of properties for sale, the number is still on the low side.  There’s a good number of Kirkland homes sales and with the 2010 home buyer tax credit and great interest rates to attract home buyers, this may very well be the best time in 2010 to sell your Kirkland home.  I’m calling this the real estate trifecta, something every home seller and buyer can benefit from as the odds are more in favor of a stronger real estate market than we’ve seen in years.

Buyers, if you want to buy, start looking soon so you’re not rushed to buy a home during the last weeks of April.  If you start now, you’ll be able to learn the market and choose the home that works best for you.

Real Estate Sales in Kirkland, 1-28-10

Kirkland Home Sales 1-28-10

This chart is updated weekly by (Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc., using MLS data) to show the price ranges of the homes sold each week.  Here’s how it’s set up:The colors show who has the advantage in a particular price range.

  • Green means the buyer has the advantage with many homes to choose from and not that many selling.
  • Yellow means the number of homes for sale and the number of sales in the price range is balanced between the buyer and the seller.
  • Red indicates a sellers’ market where the seller may have the advantage as more homes are selling when compared to what’s available.
Down the side of the chart, the home sales activity is broken down into a price bracket of $99,999. All the homes priced between $400,000-499,999, as an example, are put together in one price category in the chart.
Across the top, the chart is broken down into real estate activity by the week.If you take the $400-499,999 line and follow it across the chart, you’ll see what has happened each of the last seven weeks.  There are three columns under each week. On the left side of the column is the number of homes for sale in Kirkland.  The middle column shows how many homes sold that week, and the final column under the date shows the months supply of homes for sale.  In other words, if no other homes came up for sale, it would take an average of 2.4 months to sell all the homes in the $400-499,999 price range.The last section shows the 7 week average of each category, the number of homes for sale, the number sold, and the months supply.

The Final News on The Seattle-Eastside BNSF Rail Line?-Maybe

In Bellevue, King County, Kirkland News, Kirkland WA, rails to trails, Redmond, WA on December 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

In the past I’ve written a lot about the BNSF rail line.   You know the rail line that handled the Dinner Train through the eastside and Kirkland for many years, but I haven’t been writing much about it lately.  Mostly because the situation seems to change on a weekly (daily?) basis and still nothing is written in stone as of yet.

But recently, there have been new plans brewing all over the eastside, not just Kirkland, but also in Redmond and Bellevue.

BNSF rail line

Some of these plans for the Eastside BNSF rail line may actually happen if the sale of the line goes through this month.

According to Keith Ervin from The Seattle Times, here are some possible deals:

• The Metropolitan King County Council is reviewing a request by Executive Dow Constantine for $26.5 million to buy most of the corridor south of Woodinville.

• The Cascade Water Alliance is negotiating to buy an easement, possibly for around $8 million, that would eventually allow it to bring water from Lake Tapps to homes in Bellevue, Kirkland and other Eastside cities, alliance spokeswoman Elaine Kraft said Monday.

• Puget Sound Energy wants to obtain permanent easements for more than 180 existing crossings of the rail corridor by natural-gas and electric lines and for future easements, said Sue McLain, the company’s vice president of operations. She declined to discuss the price.

• Sound Transit is considering buying rights to use parts of the old rail line in Bellevue for its Eastside light-rail extension and the right to operate commuter trains on a longer segment sometime in the future, spokesman Geoff Patrick said.

So where is Kirkland and The Kirkland Highlands in all of this? Most critical is Metroplitan King County Council’s plan to buy most of the corridor south of Woodinville, which includes Kirkland.  Dow Constantine has gone on record with his support of the trail for recreational use:

County Executive-elect Dow Constantine said the agreement will fulfill a promise to the region that the Eastside Rail Corridor will receive long-term protection from development and that it will be made available for recreational uses.

“By keeping this key transportation and recreational corridor in public ownership, we are making a major commitment to our shared future in King County,” Constantine said.

Does this mean the line will only be a trail and not used for transportation? The jury is still out on this one, but keeping the line in public hands is more of a guarantee the line will be used for a trail than if it gets into the hands of private concerns.  Although many studies have been conducted in the past that question the viability and cost of the line for effective transportation, I expect continuing studies will be done.

“We brought together a great consortium of partners to bring the BNSF corridor into public ownership for perpetuity,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips.  “Securing this right-of-way is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the public to own a continuous transportation and recreation corridor between some of the region’s fastest growing cities and paralleling congested I-405.”

Interim trail use (“railbanking”) will be established on the Southern Portion and the
Redmond Spur
under the National Trails Systems Act, 16 U.S.C. 1247(d) as of the closing of the Port’s transaction with BNSF.

The southern portion of the rail line means Kirkland and Bellevue.

Who will pay for acquisition of the rail line?

The Executive proposes use of the voter approved Conservation Futures Levy to acquire the sections of corridor between Renton and Woodinville and the seven mile spur between Woodinville and Redmond with the exception of the section inside the City of Redmond.  Partners in the historic deal will purchase easements on the property for transportation and utility use.

What are do you think of about the future of the BNSF rail line in Kirkland?  How would you like to see it used?


Sound Transit, Proposition 1, Trails, Rails, and Commuting Through Kirkland, Washington

In Bellevue, Kirkland News, Kirkland WA, rails to trails, WA on October 2, 2008 at 2:38 pm

This past weekend, The Seattle Times came out against Sound Transit’s newest ballot proposal, prompting this post. At a recent Kirkland City Council’s meeting, the City Council came out in favor of the Sound Transit ballot initiative.  Mayor Lauinger was the lone holdout who advocated for better bus service.  Better transportation is critical for this area as it continues to grow.  But better, means exactly that, not just any transportation system, but a better transportation system.

If you check out my post on my eastside blog, I’ve talked about some of the very basic reasons why the transit package is flawed.  The Seattle Times, Ron Sims, and The Eastside Transportation Association are all against it.  The light rail proposal is a plan for 15 years into the future, not a solution to today’s commuter problems.  What will happen now and over the next decade if something more immediate and comprehensive  is not done?

The package, besides  its exorbitant costs for light rail and its lack of short-term solutions to today’s transportation problems, includes money for a demonstration train on the BNSF tracks.  The train along the BNSF railroad line would be a diesel train, a diesel motor unit, that won’t minimize commuting times because it crosses 50+ intersections and travels by schools and neighborhoods at a “fast” 25-30 miles pace along older rails.  (There’s a video on the Eastside Trail Advocates website which shows a 4 minute wait during the middle of the day at the Totem Lake crossing because of a train coming through the intersection.)

We all, including the city, need to become more “green” and look for ways to limit our carbon footprint, ways that are realistic and meaningful, not ways that sound as is they may work, but don’t accomplish the goal to improve our transportation.

Besides commuter rail along the BNSF line being a poor way to improve transportation, a commuter line will take away from the possibility of a fabulous world class trail for the City of Kirkland.  This would be a trail people could use for commuting, biking, and walking.  Ironically at the very same City Council meeting, several of the City Council Members talked about the Kirkland community’s emphasis on walking. The Active Living Task Force is a huge promotor of walking in the community.  This is their mission statement:

“The Active Living Task Force (ALTF), created in 2007, is comprised of residents, community agencies, local businesses, and City representatives.

Our Vision is for community design, services and programs to enhance our quality of life by making it safe, enjoyable and easy for everyone to be physically active in their daily lives.

Our mission is to advise Kirkland policy makers, advocate and provide support for local strategies aimed at promoting community-enriched physical activity as an integral part of everyone’s (including the disabled) daily life.”

It would be great if the City Council would pay attention to the goals of the Active Living Task Force.  One of the city’s goals, according to a comment made by Council Member Jessica Greenway,  is to connect all of Kirkland parks by trail.  The BNSF line is the answer.

A similar discussion has been happening in Bellevue. That city has also been wrestling with support of the Sound Transit package.  The Seattle Times had an article discussing the opposing viewpoints. Bellevue’s Mayor Grant Denniger is for the proposal and Eastside Transportation Association (ETA)  backed by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, is not.  Dick Paylor of ETA was quoted in the Times article as saying: “There’s much better choices than what we have been given.”  The group supports ride sharing, road improvements, and a better bus service through $1 billion dollar investment for bus stations.  The bus system would be ready far sooner than a rail line, which is supposed to take 15 years and far more more money.

On many levels the transit package is flawed.  One level affects everyone.  There will be a huge tax increase for a long term solution that may not solve our transportation problems.  I’m not against taxes, that’s so far from my thinking.  If taxes are raised to pay for services, teachers, police and fire departments, health care, and realistic programs, I’ll be first in line.  But I’m last in line for raising taxes for a program that makes no sense.

Another is our immediate transit needs are not being effectively met, and lastly, on a local Kirkland level, we could end up with a commuter line that disrupts Kirkland’s traffic, routes for walking to schools,  separates neighborhoods, and costs us the opportunity for a world class walking/biking/commuting trail.

Still not sure what to think or how to vote?  There’s an open house this weekend at Bellevue City Hall.

What’s your opinion?

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