From the Seattle Times – $26 million sought to buy land for portion of Eastside rail corridor

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This transit story from the Seattle Times illustrates the land value for a soon to be abandoned rail lines, which with the current railway land deal, amounts to slightly over $1 million a mile or about $0.6 million/km. A local example would be the Arbutus Corridor, which using the same formula as used in Seattle, would cost about $6 million to buy.

Where Seattle’s government organizations are showing foresight in buying and protecting redundant and/or abandoned railway lines for future use, METRO Vancouver buries it’s collective heads in the sand, ignoring what must be done and continue to support hugely expensive metro projects that have done little to reduce auto congestion or pollution, while at the same time, proposing ever higher taxes and user fees to fund the nonsense.

Future generations will condemn the present METRO Vancouver Board for their short sightedness and incompetence.

$26 million sought to buy land for portion of East side rail corridor

King County Executive Kurt Triplett proposed today that the county spend up to $26 million to buy most of the southern part of BNSF Railway’s 42-mile Eastside rail corridor for future use.

By Keith Ervin – Seattle Times staff reporter

King County Executive Kurt Triplett proposed today that the county spend up to $26 million to buy most of the southern part of BNSF Railway’s 42-mile Eastside rail corridor.

If approved by the Metropolitan King County Council, the purchase would help preserve for future rail and trail use the old rail line that connects Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville, Redmond and Snohomish.

Under deals that are still begin negotiated, the Port of Seattle would buy the entire rail line from BNSF by Dec. 15 for $107 million or less, then would sell much of the southern part to King County and other partners.

The county would own most of the 25 miles of the southern portion, but Sound Transit and Redmond are negotiating to buy smaller stretches from the Port of Seattle.

Sound Transit could acquire a portion of the corridor in Bellevue for its planned Seattle-to-Bellevue-to-Redmond light rail line. Redmond could buy part of the Woodinville-to-Redmond spur, and Puget Sound Energy and the Cascade Water Alliance are expected to buy utility rights of way.

King County would finance its part of the deal by selling bonds to be repaid with future revenues from the conservation futures property tax. That tax can only be used for acquisition of trails and open space — and legally can’t be used to rescue the county’s troubled general fund — Triplett said.

Terry Lavender, chair of the conservation futures advisory committee, endorsed the funding plan, saying, “Bonding against this fund should be for extraordinary circumstances and I believe this project rises to that level.”

In his final news conference as county executive, Triplett said he was “thrilled” to be part of a purchase of land “that’s going to belong to King County forever and for future generations.” After years of negotiations, he said, public agencies are “finally on the precipice of acquiring this corridor.”

He was joined in the news conference by County Council members Dow Constantine, Jane Hague, Julia Patterson and Larry Phillips, Lavender and Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Chuck Ayres.

“Woohoo! I’m so excited,” Hague exclaimed.

The Port will buy and hold the rail line between Woodinville and Snohomish, allowing a contractor to take over BNSF’s freight-hauling business. A trail could eventually be put alongside the track.

From Woodinville to the south, where BNSF has abandoned the rail line, the future owners expect to eventually build a trail and passenger rail service.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010319650_webrail20m.html

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3 Responses to “From the Seattle Times – $26 million sought to buy land for portion of Eastside rail corridor”

  1. John Says:

    Even better than that!

    $1 million/mile = a bit more than $600,000/km. If you add the exchange it’s about $650,000/km.

    I’m not sure how the area compares to the Arbutus Corridor though…..

    Zweisystem replies: The Arbutus Corridor’s value will only increase if the land is rezoned, as it stands, it is still a railway corridor with track in situ.

  2. David Says:

    That rezoning and subsequent windfall of cash is what the CPR has been fighting to get for years. They’ve even submitted design ideas to the city for residential and commercial buildings on the land. Some parts of the Arbutus corridor, if built to match the surrounding neighbourhood, could be worth $50 million/km.

    There’s no way the CPR is going to give that up for $650k/km. They’ve owned the land for almost 125 years. What’s a few more spent waiting for a serious pro-development council to be elected in Vancouver?

  3. Bryan Vogler Says:

    Vancouver has a history interurban cars travelling on inter-city tracks as part of the national grid. The famous line between the C.P.R Stevston and Vancouver line was chartered by the Canadian Pacific Railroad and runs as the Vancouver and Lulu Island Railroad from 1902 to 1996 when it was turned to the Van Horne Spur between False Creek and Marpole junction. This connects to the mainline across Canada.
    The C.P.R. truck still inspects the track as required, and it is not abandoned. The Canada Line would have gone on that right of way except its regional rail and not inter-city rail under federal jurisdiction.
    Via Rail runs the inter-city systems and the provinces build there own with federal grant money like the C.P.R. had in the beginning to build the national railway. There is no law to force C.P.Rail into giving up track or selling it. So with all due respect to U.S. people who think we can save it
    for our use you are mistaken.
    In contrast the old Central Park tramline was provincial and Skytrain runs over it with no level crossings which is much safer and economical being the lawsuits for accidents can run high at level crossings.
    In Canada there are few municipal railroads and less regional ones also.

    Zweisystem replies: Your statement; “SkyTrain runs over it with no level crossings which is much safer and economical being the lawsuits for”, is factually incorrect. Not only rail/road intersections much safer than road/road intersections, lawsuits only happens if the train/tram is at fault and 99% of the time, the auto driver is 100% at fault for disobeying signals or stop signs and colliding with a tram. SkyTrain records about double the number of deaths per annum than Calgary’s LRT.

    The reason why SkyTrain follows the Central Park Line was that planning was first done to accommodate light rail and the province forced SkyTrain onto the route with no extra planning. The Central Park Line is the wrong route for SkyTrain as the metro should have gone down the median of Kingsway.

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