The request by Ballard Terminal Railroad Company to block rail removal along the Cross Kirkland Corridor was denied on Thursday, Aug. 1, giving Kirkland the go-ahead to remove the tracks.
With this decision, the last major obstacle to building the proposed 5.75-mile trail on the former railway through Kirkland has been overcome.
“We are delighted in and grateful for this decision,” said Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett. “We were confident in the merits of our case. And we are appreciative that the Surface Transportation Board recognized those merits.”
The city has already contacted the rail removal contractor to begin removing the rails in the near future. The rail bed, however, will remain in place.
In its seven-page decision, the Surface Transportation Board said the harm to the public interest of leaving the tracks in place outweighed Ballard Terminal’s reasons for keeping them there.
“Ballard’s request for an injunction will be denied,” the board wrote. “Ballard has failed to demonstrate, based on the current record, that it will likely succeed on the merits because it appears to have insufficient financial resources and there is insufficient evidence of current shipper need. Given this weak showing, any harm to Ballard resulting from its inability to pay for or recover the cost of installing track is insufficient to warrant an injunction.”
Ballard Terminal filed a motion in April with the Surface Transportation Board to reactivate the rail line. The following month, it requested injunctive relief, which resulted in Kirkland suspending its contract with A & K Railroad Materials, Inc. to begin rail removal.
This stretch is part of the 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor, which once completed, will connect Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Woodinville and Redmond via a multi-use trail.
For now, the abandoned railroad will be a temporary gravel trail – a possible prelude to a longer, paved trail.
You can be a part of the 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor with you gift to Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation. Your support provides for programs such as grassroots organizing, meetings with policymakers and keeping the drumbeat going for safe, connected bikeways on the Eastside. Help make this vision a reality with your support today!
You can give online or by check to: Cascade Bicycle Club Education foundation c/o Eastside Trails, 7400 Sandpoint Way NE, Suite 101S, Seattle, WA 98105.