The city of Tukwila versus the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway: Round one

In the short time I have spent getting to know the town of Tukwila, it has become clear this is an intriguing community with a complex history and many stories to tell.

In the short time I have spent getting to know the town of Tukwila, it has become clear this is an intriguing community with a complex history and many stories to tell.

A city staff member described the Tukwila to me as a city of more than 125,000 people during the weekdays and 19,000 at night.

It is a tale of two cities, and although the commercial development side of the coin is one of the most significant components to Tukwila, it is still a town of people. Folks and families living in homes with hopes and dreams.

The Monday, May 9 City Council meeting presented an interesting example of the intersection of issues Tukwila officials and residents face.

Mayor Jim Haggerton spoke to the council members and public in attendance about a letter he sent to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

The letter addresses the proposed expansion of the railroad company’s South Seattle Intermodal Facility and the impact on Tukwila and the Allentown neighborhood.

The letter from Haggerton is very pointed and gets right to it, discussing the proposed rerouting of truck traffic from the facility, “off of South 124th Street enabled by constructing a new bridge across the Duwamish River into a more industrialized street of Tukwila, but you offered no funding or participation to help accomplish this, even if the city would consider that option.”

Haggerton stated in the letter that BNSF expects “others” to pay for all the transportation improvements.

This looks like it is lining up to be quite a scuffle.

There is a lot more to this story that will develop over the next weeks and months, but the essence of the issue is a dispute over land use.

The city contends it has the right to enforce land-use regulations within its city limits and BNSF states it has federal preemptive authority to override the city’s regulations and requirements.

This is an old-fashioned land war right here in Tukwila.

Haggerton said by phone Tuesday the city was in for an uphill battle because the preemptive authority was established by the U.S. Congress in the 1800s. Tukwila will be asking our senators and congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. to help.

The mayor sees it as a protecting the Allentown neighborhood.

“Our comp plan said we would do all we could to maintain and protect the residential neighborhoods,” Haggerton said.

The City Council will be considering a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to step into the fight.

BNSF will certainly put pressure on from its side to maintain the railroad’s preemptive authority.

This will be an interesting wrestling match with plenty of history about railroads and land wars.

Stay tuned, this is the stuff that cities are made on.

[flipp]

More in Opinion

Washington State Capitol Building. File photo
Editorial: Taxpayers deserve down payment on tax reforms

By The Herald Editorial Board Reform of the state’s tax system wasn’t… Continue reading

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Page Carson Foster. Photo credit Washington State Legislative Support Services
Carson Foster serves as page in Washington State House

The following was submitted to the Reporter: Carson Foster, a student at… Continue reading

State Dems may abandons caucus chaos in time for 2020

Washington also is considering becoming more significant by moving its primary to early March.

Are sheriffs above the law?

Washington voters have spoken on I-1639. Sheriffs need to set the stage to follow their oath of office - and enforce the law.

Parking issues should be addressed now rather than later

So let’s have a little update on Tukwila Village. Construction on the… Continue reading

Two commissioner positions available this year

For The Reporter The Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District (TPMPD) is a… Continue reading

Especially in an election year, our elected should do better

At first glance, the reinstitution of the Hazelnut, Issue 1 — looks,… Continue reading

When tomorrow becomes today: King County cities must tackle affordable housing

Microsoft has started the regional dialogue, but will cities rise to the challenge?

Representation matters

By Flip Herndon Tukwila Superintendent During the month of February we may… Continue reading

Why public libraries matter more than ever in the Information Age

Occasionally, someone unfamiliar with King County Library System will say to me… Continue reading

Tukwila Pool welcomes new water aerobics classes

By Laci Jamison The Tukwila Pool is excited to announce that we… Continue reading

With city budgets, come tough choices

In a previous column, I briefly touched on how our new public… Continue reading