Celebrate the Eastside Trail with rail spike removal Friday, summit Saturday

From the Master Plan

From the Master Plan

It’s very difficult to overstate how huge an impact the Eastside Trail will have on regional bikeability and livability.

Traveling through or very near city centers, neighborhoods and employment centers in Woodinville, Kirkland, Bellevue and Renton the trail itself will revolutioninze non-motorized transportation east of Lake Washington.

Add to that existing and future trail links to Redmond, the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Sammamish River Trail and across the 520 Bridge, and the regional trails will finally resemble and function like a real network (which reminds me, have you seem Zach Shaner’s awesome dream regional trail map designed like a transit map?).

If you are super excited about the possibilities here, then join the celebration 12:30 p.m. Friday near the Kirkland/Bellevue border as the first railroad spike is removed (more details below). After the ceremony, bike the Cross Kirkland Corridor with Cascade Bicycle Club for Happy Hour at the wonderful Chainline Brewing.

As we reported previously, King County will remove the rails from about 1.3 miles of the corridor stretching from the existing Cross Kirkland Corridor southern terminus into the heart of Bellevue.

But even with the rails removed, the trail won’t really be bikeable until a hardpack gravel interim trail surface is completed. King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a November statement that the first section of interim trail could be open “in two years.”

If you want to get even more involved, the county is hosting an Eastside Rail Corridor Summit Saturday in Bellevue. The agenda (PDF) includes panels on transportation and land use, business development along the trail, and breakout conversations to help set near- and mid-term goals.

More details on Friday’s rail removal ceremony, from King County:

In 2016, King County will begin the process of removing the old rails from the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) to make way for future trail and transit uses. Join leaders from King County, Bellevue, Kirkland, the business community, The Trust for Public Land, and Cascade Bicycle Club on Friday, Jan. 8 as we get an early start and pull up a few railroad spikes ourselves.

Help us take out our first railroad spike!

When: Friday, Jan. 8, 2016
What: Program begins at 12:30 p.m. and is expected to run until approximately 2 p.m.
Where: Intersection of the ERC/Cross Kirkland Corridor at 108th Avenue NE near the South Kirkland Park and Ride (map)

We’ve got a lot to commemorate; getting started on the rails is just one of a few key next steps for 2016. Others include:

  • Releasing the County’s Draft Trail Master Plan in early 2016 for the long-term paved trail throughout our area of the ERC.
  • Initiating work on an interim gravel trail that will connect the Cross Kirkland Corridor to the SR 520 Trail and to bike and pedestrian paths near the Spring District and downtown Bellevue.

Immediately following the ERC commemoration, Cascade Bicycle Club and the City of Kirkland are hosting a guided bicycle ride along the Cross Kirkland Corridor, ending with a networking happy hour at Chainline Brewery, 503 Sixth St S in Kirkland.

These happenings also help kick off the ERC Summit on Saturday, January 9 at Meydenbauer Center.

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12 Responses to Celebrate the Eastside Trail with rail spike removal Friday, summit Saturday

  1. Al Dimond says:

    Despite the limited current utility of the rails being removed I have mixed feelings about celebrating rail removal. It feels like dancing on the grave of urban industry in America. If momentum from Spring District development and planning holds, in a generation Bellevue’s industrial corridors will be nearly gone!

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I get your point. The rail lines have been pretty much defunct for a while. So the celebration is more about reusing this incredible corridor than saying goodbye to industrial jobs. But I can see how this could rub people the wrong way. Thanks.

  2. Anthony says:

    Appalling, the continued loss of rail is a serious indicator we are losing more valued jobs at the base level. Hello Starbucks barista, you only get to be sevice job slves now.

    Why are we celebrating this again? Please remind me. Having done 24 miles on the bike to day to work I can only say I am sure glad I don’t have to deal with the continued deterioration of the Eastside.

    • William says:

      Give me a break. The creation of the railroads was the biggest give away of federal resources to a small elite in the history of the US. Nothing before or since done by the government has concentrated such a large proportion of the nations wealth in so few hands.

  3. Rich Knox says:

    These corridors became available for trails because the railroads were ready to abandon the right of way. Keeping this right of way in the public hands for trails keeps the corridors open. If it ever becomes socially advantageous to reintroduce rail, the right of way is there. The alternative is to sell the corridor off to private land owners, and then the right of way is gone forever. I think this is reason to celebrate, even for rail fans.

    • Al Dimond says:

      It’s absolutely a great thing that the ROW is in the public hands — that its unique features for transportation (grade, continuity, reasonable number of intersections) will benefit the public. The trail will be something to celebrate! So will the many connections to and across the trail enabled by its public status. It will open up the potential to travel on foot between commercial and residential areas that are much closer as the crow flies than as the roads go.

      It’s just that the loss of industrial infrastructure doesn’t put me in a celebratory mood. It’s not that bikes killed the train — there’s an anti-bike faction that always wants to say that, and it’s essentially never true — but it’s what’s dead and dying.

  4. Gary says:

    This is a celebration that we the public still have/own these continuous corridors. Yes, it’s sad to see heavy industry leave Bellevue, but that story is long ago. And we may well wish for an alternative route than along the shoreline before too long, but as it has been pointed out, since it’s still in the public domain, we can convert it back to heavy rail.

    Meantime, it’s time to let others use this land for transportation than just private industry, which is what all freight lines are.

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