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Rail News: Intermodal

BNSF, King County and Port of Seattle to transfer ownership of unused rail line


Yesterday, BNSF Railway Co., Port of Seattle and King County, Wash., officials signed two memoranda of understanding under which the county will take ownership of an unused freight-rail corridor and transfer ownership of King County International Airport to the port.

King County will own a 40-mile BNSF line that runs along the eastern edge of Lake Washington between North Renton and Snohomish. The port, on behalf of King County, will pay the railroad $103 million for the line and pay King County up to $66 million to redevelop the line’s right of way into a hiking and biking trail in exchange for the airport.

Currently, there is not enough demand along the route to convert the line into a commuter-rail corridor, but that might change in the future, according to a recent Puget Sound Regional Council study. If building a commuter-rail line in the area would become economically viable, King County has agreed to reactivate the line as a transit-rail route.

The parties also agreed to support funding from the state to improve Stampede Pass for double-stack rail cars and identify a site for an intermodal terminal in the Central Puget Sound region.

The King County Council and Seattle Port Commission still have to approve the agreements.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/27/2007