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Seattle port places BNSF corridor acquisition on hold

The Port of Seattle has decided to delay its acquisition of BNSF Railway Co.’s 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor in King and Snohomish counties until first-quarter 2009 because of ongoing turmoil in municipal bond markets. The port plans to sell municipal bonds to finance the $107 million transaction, which initially was arranged with BNSF in November 2007.

“Many local governments across the nation are delaying or postponing projects because they can't sell the bonds to finance them right now,” said port Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani in a prepared statement. “The port remains committed to placing the corridor into public ownership.”

The Surface Transportation Board currently is reviewing the transaction, under which the port would lease the corridor to King County to develop a public-access trail on the corridor’s southern portion. King County would contribute $2 million for an easement. Freight would continue to be hauled on a section from Woodinville to Snohomish.

After the deal is finalized, the port plans to seek public feedback on ways the corridor could be used for both transportation and recreation uses.

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More News from 10/30/2008