October 19, 2007
A careful observer may notice that those who are attempting to scrap the Eastside railroad keep repeating that they are in favor of retaining the corridor. But what does this really mean?
Actually, it could mean something very bad. It could mean that they are attempting to retain only a narrow strip of land perhaps only 20 or 25 feet wide which is sufficient for a trail or single track and allow the remainder of the mostly 100 foot right of way to be sold off to developers.
This would be very bad for several reasons. One is that replacement of the tracks by a supposedly interim trail would make it much more difficult to put the tracks back in at a later date. This is obviously because there would be no room left for a trail, and thus there would be intense opposition to removing the trail. Just as there would be to removing the Burke-Gilman trail.
There are additional reasons that this would be very harmful to the region. One is that it could preclude, or at least make it very difficult, to add a second track. Although the initial traffic volume could likely be handled by a single track with judiciously located passing sidings, eventually a second track would be needed if the region continues to grow as projected.
Moreover, stripping the right of way of much or most of its width for commercial development precludes another important use. It is as a linear park and/or linear nature preserve alongside the railroad. Few urban areas have the opportunity to create such an asset, and at minimal cost. This is something far too precious to be squandered just for the sake of short term political and financial gains for a few individuals.
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