When it begins operating in 2027, the Northeast Recycling and Transfer Station will be a modern, enclosed facility that meets the latest environmental standards and best practices for recycling, according to King County officials.

In 2020, King County Solid Waste Division began the process of selecting a site to replace the aging and limited Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland, which has been operating since the mid-1960s. After considering input from a number of stakeholders, including city representatives, residents and a community-based advisory group, King County identified three sites to study in an environmental review process under the State Environmental Policy Act. 

According to results from a siting study in March, the Redmond location on Willows Road received the lowest score (35.4) of evaluation criteria and the site in Woodinville recorded the second lowest (38.4). On the other hand, both Kirkland locations scored above 75. As a result, the site at the corner of Willows Road and Northeast 124th Street was removed from the list of potential locations.

The prospective 13.6-acre site in Woodinville would be located at Winsome Trading and an adjacent property owned by Northwest Utilities on Woodinville-Redmond Road. At several virtual meetings, council members expressed concern about traffic, tourism and distance to Interstate 405. Residents have expressed concern about noise and smell creating an issue for tourism, such as outdoor breweries in the area and concerts in the summer. 

A newsletter from the city describes the Woodinville parcels as within the suitable size and shape, and located in close proximity to transportation corridors and other transfer facilities. However, this site is currently owned by a long-standing business with over 100 employees.

According to the city, the warehouse on-site was developed for the unique needs of Winsome Trading. Should this site ultimately be selected, the potential impacts associated with property acquisition and business relocation could be significant.

Two other areas under consideration are the Houghton Park and Ride and the existing Houghton Transfer Station. 

A staff report from the city said the current Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland is nearing the end of its service life. However, despite offering limited services, Houghton continues to be one of the busiest transfer stations in the county. The station is positioned next to the former landfill, which is currently being used as sports fields. The whole property, covering 25.4 acres, is being considered for the replacement site, although the county aims to preserve or redo as much of the ball fields as possible. 

A number of factors were considered in determining which sites advanced for further analysis in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), including cost, technical feasibility, transportation access, community needs and environmental considerations. While all sites were evaluated using the same criteria, each one has different tradeoffs and benefits to consider.

The environmental review process will start with scoping in summer 2021. Members of the public will be invited to comment on the proposed siting alternatives, impacts, and potential mitigation measures to study in the EIS. King County will then prepare a draft statement due out for public review and comment in early 2022.

King County will continue to work with property owners, neighbors, stakeholders and community members to understand and respond to their questions and concerns around the project. The new station is anticipated to open in 2027.

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