The local rail system was built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In 2009, the owner at that time, BNSF, sold the eastside railroad right of way and assets from the Snohomish River south to Renton, including the Redmond spur, to the Port of Seattle. As a separate transaction, BNSF sold the freight rail operating rights from the Woodinville wye north to the BNSF main line near Snohomish to a third party. Subsequent to these sales, various jurisdictions with interest in the right of way purchased portions from the Port.
The right of way south of the Woodinville wye has been railbanked (a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail until rail service in the corridor is reinstated).
In December 2013, the Snohomish County Council approved a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the railroad right of way and improvements south of Snohomish to the King County line from the Port of Seattle. County ownership is expected mid-2014.
Centennial Trail South
This project will extend the Centennial Trail from the City of Snohomish southerly a distance of 12 miles to the King County line within the railroad right of way, paralleling the existing rail alignment. Construction will complete the regional trail through Snohomish County, from the Skagit County line to the King County line, eventually connecting to the King County trail system to the south.
The new trail section will be similar to the existing Centennial trail, and will serve pedestrian and bicyclist use. The proposed alignment traverses areas with steep cross slopes, bridges, trestles, sloughs and other natural features which complicate construction and increase installation costs. As a result, trail construction is anticipated in phases.
Funds have been secured to complete a preliminary design and prepare environmental documents for the entire corridor, scheduled for 2014. Upon completion of the initial design and subsequent review and permitting stages, final design for the first phase will be prepared and construction will soon follow. Exact scope of the first phase has not yet been determined.
Dual use is anticipated within the 100-200 foot wide corridor as freight trains continue to serve businesses in the area.