The Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) is 42 miles of former rail line that was first developed in 1904 as part of the Lake Washington Belt Line. This line extended from Renton to Snohomish and was initially used to haul coal and lumber. As farming expanded during the early to mid-1900s, trains began to haul agricultural products. Starting in the late 1900s, the rail line was used primarily by light industrial companies such as Boeing. From 1993 to 2007, the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train also used the tracks.
In the early 1990s, the Kirkland Park Board proposed a Cross Kirkland Trail parallel to the active rail line. Complications with the railroad company stalled that vision.
In late 2009, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway sold the rail line to the Port of Seattle, and the Eastside Rail Corridor came into public ownership. Becoming ever more a reality, the vision for a trail and future transit corridor came into focus following the City’s Transportation Commission collaboration with stakeholders which resulted in an Eastside Rail Corridor Interest Statement. The Statement set goals for future development of the Corridor.
In late 2011, Kirkland negotiated an extremely favorable price of $5 million to purchase a 5.75-mile section of the corridor. The deal closed on April 13, 2012. Sound Transit and other utilities retain easements along the rail-banked portion of the ERC prior to the City’s purchase of their segment.
In June 2014, the City Council adopted the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan.
The City contracted with A & K Railroad Materials to remove and salvage the rails and ties on the Corridor, making way for construction of the interim trail. Rail salvage began at the end of August 2013 and was complete at the end of October 2013.
On June 3, 2014, the City Council awarded the interim trail construction bid to Rodarte Construction, Inc., of Auburn, WA, in the amount of $2,099,175.
Quarter mile markers were installed along the Corridor in March 2014.
CKC Videos - A collection of videos about the Cross Kirkland Corridor produced by the City between 2013 and 2017
CKC Documents - A collection of documents about the Cross Kirkland Corridor produced by the City between 2011 and 2015
The opportunity to purchase Kirkland’s segment of the Eastside Rail Corridor emerged after the Port of Seattle purchased the Eastside Rail Corridor from Burlington Northern in late 2009. By April 2012, the Kirkland City Council purchased Kirkland’s 5.75 mile, $5 million segment from the Port of Seattle using the following resources:
- Repurposed Capital Improvement Program Park Projects—$1,500,000.
- Repurposed Capital Improvement Program Transportation Projects—$1,000,000.
- Real Estate Excise Tax Reserves—$1,000,000.
- Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program—$500,000.
- Surface Water Utility—$1,000,000.
- King County Park levy—$211,000.
In 2012, Kirkland citizens approved a Parks Levy that funded a portion of the interim trail construction, the community Master Plan, and $100,000 per year toward ongoing maintenance of the Corridor. Funding for the construction of the interim trail came from $2.4 million dollars of Federal and State grants and $700 thousand dollars from Real Estate Excise Tax, the Park Levy, and a credit from the rail salvage.