A closer look at the Eastside Trail plans + Give feedback online

Example of trail section with planned Sound Transit light rail in Bellevue

Example of trail section with planned Sound Transit light rail in Bellevue. Images from King County.

You've never seen Bellevue like this before.

You’ve never seen Bellevue like this before.

A bikeable and walkable Eastside Trail can’t come soon enough.

The rails-to-trails potential for the mostly-defunct Eastside Rail Corridor is immense for growing communities east of Lake Washington. Connecting homes to jobs and new regional trail connections across and along 520, a complete and connected Eastside Trial would simply revolutionize people-powered transportation and recreation in the region on a level we haven’t seen since the Burke-Gilman Trail.

King County is currently working on developing high-level design considerations for a corridor master plan that will guide development of a complete, wide, safe and fully paved trail lined with park-like amenities. At the same time, a parallel effort is underway to remove the rails and create an interim trail much like the amazing Cross-Kirkland Corridor Trail, according to Cascade Bicycle Club’s Eastside advocacy coordinator McKayla Dunfey. But that interim trail process is separate from the master plan, which is focused on the final paved vision.

King County recently held a series of in-person open houses on the master plan, and now you can give feedback through an online open house until November 12. The plan should be complete and approved by Fall 2016, so be ready to give feedback several times during the next year.

One of the coolest images the trail planners have put together so far is this map showing anticipated demand for various stretches of the Eastside Trail and connecting trails:

MasterPlan_TrailDemandMaps_1006151Demand is based on many factors, and easy access to nearby homes and businesses is one of the biggest ones. Sections of trail pinned against the lake by I-405 perform the worst, for example. Sections that connect urban centers, other popular trails and have good access to nearby homes do the best:

MasterPlan_TrailDemandMaps_100615

One of the first questions they need to answer is: Do we want to develop an easier and more cost-effective trail on the existing railbed or invest heavily in an off-railbed option that preserves the railbed option for unplanned rail transit potential. This is a bit of a wonky choice, but King County is currently gathering feedback. Here’s an illustration demonstrating the difference in Renton:

erc_align_07The online open house materials don’t include cost estimates for each, but the off-railbed option is sure to be an order of magnitude more expensive (retaining walls like that cost a lot). Unless there is an actual, realistic and timely plan for transit on the corridor, the trail should be sited on the railbed. If we do someday fund transit, we can deal with moving the trail then. But it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of extra cash (or, more likely, delay building the trail because we don’t have the money) to preserve a railbed we may never use otherwise.

You can weigh in online for each of the following sections:

North

Central

South

You can also tell King County where you think trailside amenities like bathrooms, drinking fountains, access points, parking lots, viewpoints, historic markers and whatever else you can think of should go.

Here’s a more detailed look at the corridor:

ERC_WoodinvilleSegmentMap_060415_v2 ERC_BellevueSegmentMap_060415_v2_Trestle ERC_RentonSegmentMap_060415_v4And here’s the basic layout for trail conditions:

MasterPlan_TrailWidth_100715_Page_1

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9 Responses to A closer look at the Eastside Trail plans + Give feedback online

  1. BellevueTheBikable says:

    Anyone know the timing for the interim trail for Bellevue? The plans for Northup way improvements are drastically behind schedule and will be the 5ft bike lane vs. 11 car lane variety. I’m dismissive of Northup Ways value serving as a bike corridor. The interim trail on the other hand, from the end of the 520 trail to the South Kirkland P&R will be great for going through the region. Sounds like it might arrive first too.

    • Al Dimond says:

      For what Northup is going to be used for (the “missing link” of the 520 Trail) it’s really the only choice. Northup is literally the only way east from 116th Ave between 60th Street and 12th. Maybe after a decade of Spring District and Eastside Corridor development there will be another way through, south of 520. For now, coming west off the 520 trail, there’s no way to go but 24th and Northup.

      And once you’ve done that, if where you need to go is South Kirkland P&R (or anywhere north of there), sure, you’ll want to turn up 116th to pick up the Eastside Corridor under 405, because that short stretch of 108th is awful in both directions. Maybe worse than Northup is today, and improvement would be very difficult. By the same token, because 108th is so bad, if where you’re headed is the floating bridge, you’ll want to stay on Northup. So both the Eastside Corridor and Northup are necessary parts of the cycling network long-term. Lake Washington Boulevard is, too, for the same reason.

      The design of Northup is another matter; it’s not suitable for the things the 520 trail is in other places, especially with turn boxes eliminated from the design. That’s doubly true of Lake Washington Boulevard, which has incomplete bike lane coverage, inadequate bike lane width, and poor sight lines with many driveways. And again of 38h Place.

  2. William C. says:

    Anyone know whether there’re any plans for a direct connection from the ERT to the SRT when they first approach each other around 124th St? It seems much better to do that than run two trails parallel to each other all through the valley without a connection till Woodinville. For one, it’d be much easier for Redmond – Totem Lake trips.

    • Morgan Wick says:

      Just connecting the ERC with the Redmond Connector there would be a big help – are there any plans for sidewalks on that stretch of 124th perhaps?

      • Al Dimond says:

        The really bad part of 124th is the hill between Slater and Willows, where there are bike lanes and sidewalks, but they’re too narrow, and right up against fast traffic. I’d want to stay on the Eastside Corridor past that without going all the way to Woodinville… considering the grade, maybe the most practical connection would be along the switchback down to Willows/124th.

  3. Pingback: What We’re Reading: Comprehensive Planning of the Eastside Trail | The Urbanist

  4. Gary says:

    Looks like Bellevue glossed over the fact that the rail bed is gone where the old tunnel for I-405 crossed under it. (Wilburton tunnel) Anyone know what the plan is to connect the South end and the Middle segment so we could actually ride over the trestle bridge?

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  6. Pingback: Eastside Trail takes big step forward, comments on draft plan due March 31 | Seattle Bike Blog

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