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Seattle to Everett Express

Motorcycle Only Expressway Not Far Away

In a quick decision with all parties voting "for" unanimously, motorcyclists may soon see a series of express lanes built just for them between Seattle and Everett – well almost. Work could begin as early as April 31, 2006.

Faced with exploding maintenance costs involved with keeping the train tracks between Seattle and Everett maintained, Burlington Northern has placed a plan before the state that would allow them to build a road adjacent to the tracks running between the two cities. The road will allow Burlington Northern greater access to the tracks on a more cost-effective basis. As part of the deal the state would make that road accessible to motorcycles for use as an express lane between the two major cities, thus picking up a percentage of the tab on building the roadway and using motorcycle tab fees to pay for it.

"This is a home run for both Burlington Northern and motorcycle commuters in our state," said Christine Gregoire from her office in Olympia.

The roadway would be built along the waterside of the tracks providing a spectacular coastal view as riders commute along this scenic route. With the exception of several million dollar homes in the Richmond Beach area, the land is available now for construction. In a take it or leave it deal with the owners, those homes may be moved to higher ground in the Richmond Beach neighborhood upon the owners acceptance. On certain areas of the route, land fill will be used to extend the area to the water to make it wide enough for the additional roadway, particularly through the Blue Ridge and Carkeek Park areas of Seattle.

Once complete, riders will enter the express lanes at either Golden Gardens park in Seattle, or just west of the Everett Train Station. On-ramps and off-ramps will be placed strategically in Shoreline, Edmonds and Mukilteo.

"I think I’ll enjoy looking out over the water and not just seeing trains anymore," said Steve Leighty of Kasea Motorsports who lives in Seattle’s prestigious Blue Ridge neighborhood. "I know some people in the area will be up in arms, but for me I see this as one more way to promote motorcycling in the Northwest."

And Leighty is in luck when it comes to his Kasea scooters. The Expressway will work much like the Autobahn in Germany where no speed limits will be imposed along the route. The simple rule – slower traffic keep right.

Burlington Northern has begun talks with Gary Kelsey at Irbit Motorworks in Redmond, makers of the Ural sidecar. Kelsey sees immediate applications for the Ural as a utility vehicle along the express route where it can be utilized for light track maintenance. "A lot of times, all these guys need to do is go out and pound a few spikes in the ground. The old way was that they shut the track down and used one of their track retrofitted trucks to get to the area. Now all they’ll have to do is get in a Ural and ride to the location with spikes and sledge hammers in tow," comments Kelsey.

"It’s a rare opportunity," comments Gregoire, "This stretch of track is a slam dunk when it comes to an idea like this, but there’s a lot more involved if we want to extend the line beyond this initial scope."

For a complete map and an artist rendition of the expressway click here.

TK/Spring 05


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