￼￼Welcome to Kirkland’s newest community gem.
Those are strong words, but this City's stunning reversal of support is backed up by these facts:
Kirkland City Council supporting the trail
- Planning - More than 15 years of Council meeting references and planning for an eventual “Cross-Kirkland Trail” that could unite a highly fragmented city with a common and scenic meeting place.
- Investment - Nearly $15 million, including purchase of the corridor, rail removal, and construction of the interim trail and road-crossing safety features, and a park levy for maintenance.
- Outreach - Design workshops with local communities gathering input on what unique amenities the trail should have as it winds through nine Kirkland neighborhoods. After hearing promotion of the trail, hundreds of walkers, joggers, and bikers are using the trail every day.
Kirkland City Council undermining the trail:
- Lobbying - Without any community announcements or feedback on the direction of the city’s investment, the Council lobbied Sound Transit to change their ST3 plans from Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) only on I-405 to now add BRT to the corridor. Why keep the public out of this decision?
- Sales tools - Authorizing $250,000 for conceptual design (before even known feasibility!) to pay for this study, the Council spent Real Estate Tax (REET2) funds earmarked for parks, streets and highways. To accurately describe this usage of REET2 funds, this would build a street through a park, reducing the value and size of that park. Is park reduction a valid use of funds intended to protect and build parks?
- The real goal is rail - In the same Council meeting authorizing the $250,000 expenditure, Councilman Jay Arnold asked for—and got—the Council’s blessing to take this vote to the Eastside Rail Corridor advisory board as evidence of progress (toward the eventual goal of rail on the corridor).
A transparent look at the Kirkland City Council’s claims of continued trail support.
The Kirkland City Council insists that its support for the trail has not wavered. Here are some common claims, with transparency added:
1. “We are legally mandated to include transit on the corridor.”
- When a rail line is discontinued, federal “railbanking” law requires resumption of rail freight service to always be a future option. And the original Memorandum Of Understanding for King county’s purchase of the railroad from BNSF was explicit about future rail being an option. Nowhere, in either case, is the city mandated to say that now is the time for the change away from an interim trail, and especially not to accelerate the timing ahead of Sound Transit’s own planning!
- Answers are a direct reflection of the questions asked residents and the level of listening applied. When Kirkland was collecting survey responses about the corridor, “leave it as a common open space for now” was never an option. So, having asked only about options that involved transit, the City heard only about options that involved transit. Self-fulfilling prophecy is not a valid survey tactic.
- When the City produced a glossy brochure promoting BRT on the corridor it asked for feedback again, this time at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, through an administrative error, only addresses ending in “@kirklandwa.gov” could successfully send feedback. Having heard no negative feedback from itself, the City is proceeding as if this also is a valid survey tactic.
- First, walk the corridor. The interim trail goes up the middle of a corridor that varies from 100 feet down to less than 30 in pinch points, with lush vegetation on both sides. At best, vegetation will need to be removed to make room for a trail and a road, usually side-by-side while overlapping at pinch points. The entire character of the corridor will change as a safe and scenic outdoor family space. Meanwhile, bus lines like the 255 would be moved onto the Cross Kirkland Corridor, leaving our Kingsgate, Finn Hill, Juanita, Houghton, and Market neighborhoods without a bus line and all those riders out of luck. Are we honestly planning to improve city traffic for cars by getting buses off the streets?
The Kirkland trail, should we even decide to recreate it after a Sound Transit BRT development project, will need to be paid for again with your tax dollars, now on regraded ground and at ten times the cost. If this plan concerns you, help change it with your voice:
- Read the city’s brochure on BRT at this link
- Share your opinions with the Kirkland Council: email@example.com
- Share your opinions directly with Sound Transit: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write letters to the Seattle Times and Kirkland Reporter.
- And most importantly...TELL YOUR NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS WHAT IS HAPPENING!
A message from Friends of the Eastside Corridor and the CKC