The deal is sealed, the ceremonial check and deed have been swapped and it is official: 5.75 miles of the former Burlington Northern rail line through Kirkland now belong to the city.
The deal was finalized Friday and on Saturday, a host of city, county, state and Port of Seattle dignitaries and trail supporters dedicated the purchase of what is now known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor.
"I am so proud to be the mayor of Kirkland because it's such an amazing day," said Mayor Joan McBride during a dedication of the purchase Saturday along the tracks near the complex in Houghton.
The Kirkland portion of the former railroad stretches from the Totem Lake area south almost to state Route 520, and will be developed over time in the city’s plan, first as a pedestrian and bicycle trail and later also as a light transportation corridor. The port purchased the railway in 2009 and last year began negotiating the sale of the Kirkland segment to the city. The Kirkland City Council in December.
At the dedication along the tracks, State Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, announced that the 2012 Jobs Now Act, just passed by the state Legislature, includes $2 million for Kirkland to start work at converting the rail line to a trail.
On Saturday, signs marking the north and south ends of the Cross Kirkland Corridor were unveiled before the dedication ceremony at Google.
After the unveiling in the Totem Lake area, McBride said it was truly an historic occasion for Kirkland. "What a great city council: In just a few years, and now the rail corridor. We're moving forward. It's wonderful."
City Manager Kurt Triplett said the transfer was the culmination of six years of work for him, beginning when he was deputy chief of staff for former King County Executive Ron Sims.
"I'm elated. It's just fantastic," he said. "This is going to be an extraordinary asset for the City of Kirkland and its residents. People will look back at this and say, 'Wow, this city council did something great.'"
The city sees the corridor not only as a recreational asset for pedestrians and bicyclists, but also as an economic engine, linking the city's neighborhoods and business districts north to south and connecting at its southern end to the South Kirkland Park and Ride, thus providing new transportation options.
Kirkland Public Works Director Ray Steiger said the next step is for the city to take its plan to the community and neighborhoods, and hopefully begin lifting the tracks and creating a crushed gravel surface by early next year.
For a look at Saturday's ceremonies, see the attached photo gallery. Also, for a photo gallery on Kirkland's 5.75 miles of the corridor north to south, .