First look: South Park’s new connection to the Duwamish Trail

IMG_0841The city has completed a new connection between the South Park neighborhood and the Duwamish Trail.

Officially, it is a multi-use trail because it is open to both walking and biking. But it certainly feels like the city’s newest and southernmost modern bikeway. Fully separated from S Portland Street’s truck traffic, the trail provides a family-friendly connection for South Park residents to all the parks and destinations along the Duwamish Trail as well as the regional bike routes it leads to.

But perhaps most importantly, the new connection provides a starting point for more safe connections to and within the South Park neighborhood. Here’s what the Bike Master Plan suggests (red = trail, blue = protected bike lane, green = neighborhood greenway, orange = painted bike lane):

Seattle BMP Master Map-southparkBy building one block of trail south on 8th Ave S (pictured above), the city has set the stage for a planned protected bike lane on the rest of 8th Ave S. But it has also created a connection to an excellent neighborhood greenway opportunity on Dallas Ave S/10th Ave S/S Kenyon Street that connects to the South Park Bridge.

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The stretch along S Portland accompanied a much-needed repaving of the street, which had previously been among the city’s worst-paved streets (seriously, finding a path through on a bike was really difficult because the potholes were so large, plentiful and deep).

IMG_0845The new connection to the Duwamish Trail includes a barrier separating the trail from busy SR 99. It also includes new curb ramp access to walk signals at S Holden Street, where the Duwamish Trail used to abruptly end.

IMG_0846Of course, there’s still work to do on the Duwamish Trail itself, but that will need to be a different project:

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Better connections to the South Park Bridge

The South Park Bridge just re-opened in summer 2014 after the old bridge was closed do to structural concerns in 2010. The bridge provides a connection between South Park and Georgetown/Boeing Field and helps to activate South Park’s main commercial drag on 14th Ave S.

IMG_0838Despite some recent issues that caused the draw bridge to get stuck open, it’s a great structure with a stunning view and a more neighborhood-focused connection across the Duwamish River compared to the 1st Ave Bridge, which is a highway crossing.

However, the bridge was unfortunately designed with rather skinny, paint-only bike lanes that don’t meet the city’s goal of building bike facilities that appeal to people of all ages and abilities.

Some buffer space or even a barrier of some kind could likely be constructed without significant changes to the bridge and would go a long way to making it more comfortable.

Summer 2014

Summer 2014

When the bridge first opened, general traffic was limited to one lane in each direction, which was awesome. Perhaps if traffic levels do not warrant all four lanes, a lane redesign would be a good idea.

A safer connection from the bridge to and along E Marginal Way should also be a priority for the city. There’s plenty of street space to work with, but the current bike lanes simply don’t provide enough separation from industrial traffic to feel truly safe.

King County, Tukwila and the City of Seattle also need to put their heads together to figure out how to complete a connection between the South Park Bridge, the Duwamish Trail and the Green River Trail, which starts just one mile south of the Seattle city limit.

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10 Responses to First look: South Park’s new connection to the Duwamish Trail

  1. Theresa says:

    I got to ride this last weekend and it was really nice! I do feel the stop signs along the trail are in the wrong direction. They should be stopping traffic not the bikes. The trail is sectioned off with the yellow bollards at the intersections for two way traffic but the curb ramp is not wide enough for the east bound traffic. But it really is a nicer ride through that area and once they fix that tree root and hopefully widen that sidewalk on the Dumamish trail it will be even nicer!

  2. Matthew Snyder says:

    I rode this section on the way to the Green River Trail yesterday and agree that it is a huge improvement. As you note, there’s still a lot of work to be done to make this a ride you could realistically recommend for all ages and abilities, though. The marked southbound route at 14th Ave S and S Director St, where you have to ride onto a narrow sidewalk next to a chain link fence, and then clear a cyclocross-style mud puddle obstacle, is comically bad. But if you can make it through, the new sections of the Green River trail are really nice — a bit wider than the old sections, very smooth asphalt.

  3. Al Dimond says:

    Heh, I just reported that root damage north of the new trail connection through the “Find it/Fix it” site a few weeks ago. No word yet.

    At the same time as this was finished, another nearby project was finished with little fanfare: just on the other side of West Marginal there’s a path running along the east edge of the new waste transfer facility. It was apparently built along with the transfer facility but was missing a bridge across a drainage ditch to get to the intersection. That is now complete. It’s not the biggest thing in the world, but… I think bike access to industrial job sites deserves more press than it gets, and this short connection provides a more direct connection between the Duwamish Trail and the part of town between 99 and 509. Without it you either had to go down through South Park to Cloverdale and cross 509 there or ride the shoulder of 99’s Kenyon Street offramp.

  4. Andrew Squirrel says:

    Awesome, this is on my commute home from Kent to Seattle. I’ve been doing bus/bike thing by taking the 150 bus from Tukwila to Downtown lately to cut-off some miles so this will be a nice treat when I start riding the full commute again soon.

    So glad they also paved the roadway, that thing was horrible.

    I agree about that stupid tree root on the sidewalk near the 1st ave bridge, bane of my existence, can’t wait until that unwanted tree is removed and the pavement is fixed. I should really join the chorus and call that one in. Anyone know which agency we should contact for a sidewalk in that area? Is that SDOT’s issue?

    Unfortunately I completely disagree with you on the new South Park bridge. The bike lane is superb and feels really safe. The protected walkway across the bridge is a great alternative for those that want some protection from the big scawy cars. Wide enough for pedestrians and the occasional cyclist that feels unsafe. The walkway itself is great and i’ve actually stopped & relaxed on the bridge many evenings during sunset, it almost feels like a park with the low flat guard rails that are perfect for sitting and enjoying the view. I’m a huge fan.

  5. Rob A says:

    This NEEDS some kind of connection to South West Seattle/ South Seattle CC. South Park is completely cut off from it (though, to be fair, this is mostly true for drivers as well.) But how about some infastructure on Highland Park Way?

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