For 10 years the City of Bellingham has pursued acquisition of the abandoned rail line between Meridian Street and Roeder Avenue. Acquiring this key stretch for a trail, which connects Orchard Place near Cornwall Park to the main line near Roeder Avenue, came to a halt last Friday.
In a letter dated August 10 from the Vice President of Corporate Real Estate at BNSF, the City was informed that BNSF elected to terminate the pending purchase and sale agreement from March 2018. This followed an extension requested by BNSF to study the PSA for an additional 90 days.
Last April, Bellingham City Council approved spending $261,500 in Greenway funds for this long-sought after trail connection. City staff were heading to Olympia this week to present a grant application to the Recreation and Conservation Office to build the trail, but instead had to pull their application.
“I am very disappointed that BNSF chose to terminate our purchase of this important property,” said Mayor Kelli Linville. “This has long been identified as a key connection for our trail system, and it was an opportunity to work with BNSF on mutual goals of mitigation as well as recreation. We will continue to work on any and all options to make our trail system work for our community.”
Work done to date on preliminary design will be shelved for now, as well as plans to build a pedestrian connection between Northwest Avenue and the proposed trail over an easement purchased in 2016. All funds and fees associated with the purchase that had been paid to BNSF were returned to the City.