by Bob Fleming
A Controversial Proposal to Convert a Rail Corridor into a Trail and Bike Path
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My name is Bob Fleming, and I am very interested in seeing a greatly improved
transportation system for Seattle and the surrounding region.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad abandoned a rail line that runs northward from Renton, Washington, along the east side of Lake Washington through Bellevue, Kirkland, and Woodinville to Snohomish, Washington. Through various complex transactions, the line has been obrained by various public agencies for future use.
Many people want the rails to be removed and the corridor to be used for a trail for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists.
Many other people want this corridor to be used for a light rail line or other transit purposes and oppose the plan to remove the rails. The main objection of the opponents is that they fear that once the rails are removed and replaced with a trail, there would be no future use for mass transit purposes.
No news to report at this time.
I am very much in favor of building a trail in this corridor. It would be an important link in a regional system of trails and bikeways. However I am equally in favor of use of this corridor for mass transit purposes.
If the right-of-way is wide enough, there could be enough room for a trail and a parallel light rail line. However I see problems with a light rail line parallel to the trail. There is danger of people getting on the tracks and getting killed, especially a risk for children who can be more careless. The rail line essentially is a barrier for people wanting to reach the trail from the opposite side of the tracks, except at road crossings. There will also be conflict between trains and cars at crossings. I think a monorail would be a much better choice.
The supporting pylons (columns) for a monorail would only be about four or five feet wide, leaving plenty of space for an adjacent trail. The monorail would also be quieter than railroad trains for the many people that live next to the corridor. There would be no problem with people walking under the monorail to reach the trail at any point from either side of the corridor. Also, the elevated monorail would be safer for pedestrians than light rail running alonside the trail.
Furthermore, monorail would avoid the problems that result from a surface railway crossing roadways at grade. Elevated light rail would also solve this problem, but would cost more and be noisier.
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©2007 Robert M. Fleming Jr.
This page was last updated on 8 May 2016.