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Port of Seattle holds Kirkland rail-trail project hostage over arena dispute

I did not care about the debate surrounding a proposed new arena in Sodo—until now. The Port of Seattle has decided to hold hostage a completely unrelated project that could revolutionize travel in Kirkland and the eastside by providing a 5.75-mile family-friendly biking and walking trail along the Eastside Rail Corridor (13 miles total).

Now, I’m not a PR expert or anything, but I can’t imagine it’s a good idea for an industry behemoth to say, “Families and commuters of Kirkland, You cannot have your already-approved safe biking and walking trail until King County crushes your dreams of getting an NBA team due to our concerns about bad traffic miles away from where you live” (paraphrase).

And I also can’t imagine holding a biking and walking trail hostage is a very good way to “become the cleanest, greenest, most energy efficient port in the nation.” Or maybe they weren’t actually being serious when they said that.

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How excited are people for this trail? Well, one Kirkland man built a rail-bike by hand to encourage people to imagine new uses for the space. Inventive, hopeful people like John Eineigl and his fellow residents don’t deserve to be jerked around because the Port is mad about something else across town.

I hope the Port Commissioners come to their senses that this was a silly move. The Port was already a dominant voice in the arena debates (they are quoted in just about every story I’ve read recently), and they really didn’t need to bring this unrelated and popular trail plan into it. If they thought the stunt was going to get their traffic concerns more attention, they seriously misread the situation. This feels childish and will make them more enemies than allies.

From the Seattle Times:

The Port of Seattle Commission voted 3-2 to delay the last piece of the deal: transferring 13 miles of an old BNSF Railway corridor to King County. Commissioners cited “issues of trust” with the county as it moves toward a new arena near the Port’s crucial industrial area.

“I’m just concerned about this arena proposal that the Port’s interests are not being properly taken into account, and it’s going way too fast,” Port Commissioner John Creighton said at last Tuesday’s Port Commission meeting. “Before we can cooperate with the county on a number of issues we really need to understand, how are we going to deal with it?”

The vote raises the temperature on a debate between the Port and the Seattle and King County councils, which are to vote this summer on putting public money toward the arena.

Port staff and commissioners have written letters expressing concern. Now, by delaying the rail-corridor vote, they are threatening to withhold something the county wants.

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9 responses to “Port of Seattle holds Kirkland rail-trail project hostage over arena dispute”

  1. Bryan Willman

    As much as I love good riding routes (sport and practical), and as much as I’m deeply opposed to any government participation in professional sports arenas, I totally agree that this is silly. (But sort of normal politics.)
    It’s not really about kirkland though – they’re just the victim at the end of the chain.
    The real solution here is to require private parties to build arenas and pay impact costs exactly like anybody else, using the same zoning as anybody else.
    And the port can’t win the long term – all sorts of pressures mean that the area in question WILL be developed and WILL be an issue – they’d better learn to manage it. Better container routes in and out of the port ARE in order. (Bike and pedestrian routes too of course.)

    (The proposed trail would, I think, allow me to practically commute by bike, probably several days a week. Sigh.)

  2. Breadbaker

    The Port Commissioners need to grow up. It’s not like they can move out of King County and work with some other county on projects. The idea they’d do anything like this to the people in Kirkland because of not getting their way over the proposed arena (which doesn’t happen without an NBA team and there is no NBA team) is a dereliction of duty.

  3. Todd

    In case you haven’t figured out, the Port is corrupt as hell.

  4. Commissioners Mike Creighton, Rob Holland, and Tom Albro are all elected officials. I would recommend writing them asking them why they are effectively holding an unrelated trail project hostage over this spat.

    More importantly: Remember this incident and their actions in the months to come the next time you see their names on a ballot and wonder what the port commisioners do that effects your life. (And for goodness sake, register to vote if you aren’t already registered)

    1. Todd

      If you’ve followed them, you’d know the whole commission is a scam. Sadly it’s a machine and I’m cynical that any positive change can be done.

  5. Todd

    This is just an example of what we’ve got going on in this city — and this is 2 years old. Keep watching these clowns and your gonna vomit.


  6. […] Eastside rails-to-trails under threat because of Port-County arena scuffle? […]

  7. […] a month after the Port of Seattle Commissioners voted to throw a childish tantrum and withhold sale of the Eastside Rail Corridor because they were upset about the plans to build a […]

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