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Originally published May 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 13, 2008 at 12:18 AM

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King County, Port sign deal for Eastside rail line

It's a done deal. After years of talk, Port of Seattle and King County executives signed a final agreement Monday to put a 42-mile Eastside...

Seattle Times staff reporter

It's a done deal.

After years of talk, Port of Seattle and King County executives signed a final agreement Monday to put a 42-mile Eastside rail corridor into public ownership.

The deal paves the way for a possible combination of freight rail, commuter trains, and biking and hiking trails, but many details remain to be worked out.

With Bellevue's spectacular Wilburton Trestle as a backdrop, Port CEO Tay Yoshitani and County Executive Ron Sims made official the deal under which the Port will pay BNSF Railway $107 million for the Renton-toSnohomish rail line.

BNSF CEO Matt Rose signed the deal earlier.

Port Commission President John Creighton said the Port wanted to make sure the rail line wasn't sold off in pieces and felt public ownership would support the Port's goal of moving people and goods.

King County will pay the Port $1.9 million for an easement to build a trail from Woodinville to Renton and Woodinville to Redmond. Freight trains will continue to run north of Woodinville.

The county and Port will negotiate trail alignment after a public process on uses of the corridor that will start soon and will be finished early next year.

Sims and Creighton both said they are committed to "dual use" of the corridor by trains and bicyclists — but each has a different emphasis.

"To emphasize that commitment, we are acquiring the corridor with the rails intact," Creighton said.

Sims, who previously favored tearing up the track south of Woodinville to make way for what he called "the granddaddy of all trails," said Monday, "It will still be the granddaddy of all trails. There will be other uses as well. ... This is a win-win-win-win-win."

Yoshitani and Sims signed the agreement shortly after the Port Commission unanimously approved it. The Metropolitan King County Council voted unanimously in favor of the deal last week.

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Sims began negotiating a possible county purchase of the rail corridor in 2005. The emerging deal changed shape numerous times.

The Port's former CEO, Mic Dinsmore, tentatively agreed early last year to buy the rail corridor and trade it to King County for county-owned Boeing Field, but that deal fell through because of opposition from some Port commissioners and County Council members.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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