County Council OKs purchase of rail corridor

A plan to link tourist trains, bike and foot traffic through the city of Snohomish took a step forward Monday, when the Snohomish County Council green-lighted the purchase of a 11-mile-long rail corridor.

The agreement clears the way to buy a section of the Eastside Rail Corridor from the Port of Seattle for $5 million. Money for the purchase comes from conservation futures grants the county approved earlier this year.

“We’re excited about this,” said Peter Camp, an executive director in County Executive John Lovick’s office.

The agreement passed the council 3-1, with Councilman John Koster opposed.

The transaction is expected to close by the middle of next year. Before that happens, the Port of Seattle must complete a formal process to unload the property as surplus. Camp said leaders from Snohomish County and other jurisdictions expect to schedule a ceremony once that happens, likely some time in January.

The Eastside Rail Corridor runs for 42 miles between Snohomish and Renton. Since buying the route in 2009, the Port of Seattle has been selling it off in pieces to other local governments.

Snohomish County is buying the portion that starts in downtown Snohomish and runs south to Woodinville, where it could link with King County’s extensive system of recreation trails.

The county wants to build a recreation trail alongside the rail lines, which currently serve freight traffic. The city of Snohomish hopes to lure tourist trains to ferry customers between its antique district and Woodinville’s wineries.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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