Rail acquisition to help move along downtown Redmond revitalization plans

Under sunny skies Tuesday morning, outside Redmond City Hall, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani and Redmond City Council President Richard Cole signed documents finalizing the City of Redmond's acquisition of the Redmond section of the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Corridor.

A conceptual drawing of what the Redmond spur of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Corridor might look like in the future

Under sunny skies Tuesday morning, outside Redmond City Hall, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani and Redmond City Council President Richard Cole signed documents finalizing the City of Redmond’s acquisition of the Redmond section of the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Corridor.

Acquisition of the property is a major milestone toward meeting many of Redmond’s Comprehensive Plan goals, especially downtown revitalization and economic vitality.

The Redmond spur of the BNSF Corridor is 3.89 miles long, running from milepost (MP) 7.3 at the end of King County’s East Lake Sammamish Trail, just west of SR 520 and Bear Creek, to Northeast 124th Street.

A vital chunk of the corridor is approximately situated between the Redmond Town Center Red Robin Restaurant on 170th Avenue Northeast and the Wendy’s Restaurant where Redmond Way and Cleveland Street meet. Thanks to the acquisition of this property, the City of Redmond will be able to extend 161st Avenue Northeast between Bear Creek Parkway and Redmond Way and add other cross streets to give the downtown area a grid pattern. That, along with eventual plans to turn Redmond Way and Cleveland Street into two-way streets, will make the downtown neighborhood easier to navigate whether driving, biking or walking. It will be more of a destination than a thoroughfare.

Attractive features along the old downtown railroad tracks, which fell into disrepair in the 1990s and haven’t been used since 2000, will include a regional trail linked to others and green spaces with both active and passive recreation and public art, according to Craig Larsen, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.

At Tuesday’s celebration, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Port of Seattle Commission President Bill Bryant and City Councilmember Cole all praised the cooperative efforts between the regional partners (the Port of Seattle, City of Redmond, King County, Sound Transit, Cascade Water Alliance and Puget Sound Energy) which will make it possible to repurpose and reuse the corridor in a way that benefits both the city and the region.

Utilities to support infrastructure and growth will be located along the corridor and the property allows for future transportation use such as light rail.

Following the signing ceremony, Larsen told the Redmond Reporter that demolition of the old Redmond Shopping Square at 161st Avenue Northeast and Redmond Way is “imminent, within the next few weeks” and that updates will be posted on the city’s Web site, www.redmond.gov.

“All the tenants from that center have relocated and by mid-September, we’ll determine where sewer and water will go,” to proceed with the downtown revitalization, said Larsen.

A public meeting or “visioning event” is tentatively scheduled for July 20, at which time citizens will be asked to share more ideas for the BNSF Corridor in downtown Redmond. A conceptual drawing shown at the City Hall celebration was merely “to show what could be,” Larsen said.

Also shown at Tuesday’s meeting and available online, is a brief video about the history of the BNSF Corridor in Redmond, which was created by RCTV (Redmond City Television) for the recent Youth In Government Day. To view that video, visit http://rctv.redmond.gov/ondemand/BNSFygovday.wmv.

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