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County will start paving north section of East Lake Sammamish Trail next week

ELST_ConstMailer_North_030414_spreads-mapKing County Parks is ready to start work to reconstruct and pave the north section of the East Lake Sammamish Trail. During construction, the existing soft surface trail will be closed.

Work begins April 21 and is expected to last a year.

When fully complete, the trail will create a paved and separated bike route all the way from the Burke-Gilman Trial in Seattle to Isaaquah.

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Details from King County Parks:

The gap is shrinking in King County’s 175-mile regional trail system, as King County Parks begins construction on improvements to the North Sammamish segment of the East Lake Sammamish (ELST).

Starting April 21, the 2.5-mile-long segment will be closed from 187th Avenue Northeast to Northeast Inglewood Hill Road.

Safety is King County’s top priority during trail construction, and because of the extensive amount of work, narrow corridor, steep terrain, and limited access, this segment will be closed for approximately one year. Trail users are advised to find alternate routes around the closed portion.

Nearby East Lake Sammamish Parkway features both bike lanes and sidewalks for ELST users who want to travel along the eastern shoreline of the lake and around the closed stretch of trail. For recreation, trail users are encouraged to visit other trails in King County’s 175-mile regional trail system.

Safety and accessibility for all trail users will be improved with a new, 12-foot-wide paved corridor with 2-foot-wide soft surface shoulders on each side, enhanced intersections, clear sight lines, four fish passable culverts, retaining walls, improved drainage and landscaping.

The contractor for this project is Tri-State Construction, and the estimated cost of completing the North Sammamish segment is $6.2 million.

Funding is provided by the voter-approved 2014-19 Parks, Trails and Open Space Replacement Levy, as well as by grants from the Transportation Enhancements Program, the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program and state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

This project is the third segment of the ELST to be converted from the interim soft-surface trail to the finished master-planned trail. The Redmond segment was completed in 2011, and the Issaquah segment was completed in June 2013. The South Sammamish segment will be constructed in two phases, following completion of the North Sammamish portion of the trail.
King County purchased the 11-mile-long East Lake Sammamish rail banked corridor in 1998. An interim soft-surface trail was completed and opened to the public in 2006.
The ELST follows a historic railroad route along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish within the cities of Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah. Part of the “Locks to Lakes Corridor,” the trail follows an off-road corridor along the lake and through lakeside communities.

Once the ELST is fully developed, it will be part of a 44-mile-long regional urban trail corridor from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Issaquah. More information is available at www.kingcounty.gov/eastlakesammamishtrail.

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13 responses to “County will start paving north section of East Lake Sammamish Trail next week”

  1. Gary

    Yeah!…. The packed gravel is ok to ride on, but having it paved will make it even better for us road bike riders…. to Issaquah and BEYOND!!!

  2. “The Redmond segment … opened in November, 2011, with a 77-vehicle parking lot,” because that was apparently easier than making it easy to bike there.

    1. I went around looking for information on when they planned to connect up the Redmond Central Connector to the ELST, and it appears they’re waiting until the light rail bridge is built over Bear Creek in 2025. That fact is a footnote in this big horrible design document, which is mostly a bunch of schlock about making sure nobody ever sees anything “unpleasant” from the trail (like the actual workings of the city and its industries, or the cars people drive everywhere when they have no reasonable alternative for over a decade), how they’re going to create barriers between the trail and all this other stuff “without taking on an undesirable barrier quality”.

      I’ve been following the Cross Kirkland Corridor more closely than the Redmond Connector stuff because I travel to Kirkland regularly and not Redmond; now I see where the CKC designers contracted their terrible disease. The characteristic symptom: over-planned single corridors that disregard transportation network relationships. They put all their hope for beauty in the solitary, curated experience of art (including artistic manipulations of nature). But we animals have been evolving for millions of years to find joy and beauty in connection, to find joy and understanding through curiosity. So let’s have a network people can use, so we can see our beautiful faces! And one that lets us see the truth of our surroundings, so we can understand them! This is something, to some degree, the downtown Seattle people got right with their recent Pike/Pine concepts — instead of over-designing or trying to unify single streets, they focus on attractive standard elements, letting the streets and places work together, navigable in three dimensions, traversed in any order.

      The CKC is, of course, much worse for lack of connections — the RCC is extending usefully to the west and includes some plans for public space in downtown Redmond that aren’t obviously ridiculous (at first glance to someone that’s essentially never been to Redmond). It’s the ELST that desperately needs the connection. The RCC might have the most ridiculous document, though..

      1. Matthew Snyder

        Excellent post. I had no idea about the wait-until-2025 situation; maybe if paving the ELST (which I’m not thrilled about) brings increased use, we can generate some momentum to make this connection happen sooner.

      2. Gary

        Can’t you get to the begining of the ELST from Marymore Park?

        And yes, from points directly North and West of the start of the ELST via bicycle is horrible.

        Part of the problem is of course folks who work at Microsoft but live in Samamish up on the plateu have no good way to get off it safely. They need some sideroads/trails that wind down directly to the East and North that then connect to the ELST.

        Still this trail is a good part of the big trail picture.

        I’m still hoping that the bit between Landsburg Dam and Rattlesnake Lake which is old RR grade and belongs to the county via the rails/trails swap gets fenced (it’s inside the watershed) and paved and connected so that you could ride from Ballard, to Rattlesnake Lake and down to Landsburg and back to Renton then up the West side of Lake Washington back to the UW and then back to Ballard.

      3. @Gary: Yes, you can get to the ELST through Marymoor park. But if you’re looking for a direct route into downtown Redmond, that isn’t one. An interim route along the southwest sidewalk of Redmond Way wouldn’t be physically all that difficult (knock out a bit of fence and maybe do a bit of paving), but it might be psychologically too much for delicate Redmonders that don’t want to see anything unpleasant while biking.

  3. Jim Laudolff

    It will be interesting to see if they match the grades nicely with all of the driveways.

    Overall I think paving this is a big fail. It will create even more conflicts with local homeowners (of which I am NOT one). The current trail is completely bikeable on any kind of bike. It drains reasonably well and does not get rutted or potholed. Paving is totally unnecessary and will only increase speeds. I use this corridor every day and generally bike on the road. I’m leery that bike access on the road will diminish over time and I’ll be forced to use the path where I will encounter more obstacles and ironically, more problems with motorists.

    Hopefully the “2 foot soft shoulder” is still okay for running as this path is also heavily used by runners who appreciate the softer surface than pavement.

    1. How bad is the driveway/cross-street situation there? I agree that it would be a shame for cycling conditions on the road to erode — between the roundabout and around NE 65th St. they’re good, to where it would take a really great trail to really be a better option for faster commuters and roadies (that’s me, in this case, since I’m pretty much never east of Lake Sammamish unless I’m biking fast). But south of the roundabout and north of 65th the road is pretty uninviting. It’s certainly a good thing the trail is paved in those places!

      I wonder if something like crushed limestone was considered for the middle section. I grew up near a crushed limestone rail trail (the Illinois Prairie Path) that was a terrific running surface and fine for most biking (rain slowed you down a bit but never left the trail impassable, even on a road bike). Not really suitable for fredly fredding, but urban and suburban trails rarely are…

      1. (not that I think paving is a terrible idea or something… TIMTOWTDI, and I don’t really know the driveway situation that well.)

  4. Zach Shaner

    I know people are hesitant about paving because of inconsiderate roadies flying by everyone, but I’m still pro-paving. Paving reduces barriers to cycling, period. People ride more comfortably, they and their bikes stay cleaner, and everyone generally has a better experience on pavement. We can address issues of rude trail behavior through shaming, enforcement, and trail treatments like bollards, speed bumps, and gates.

    Once East Lake Sammamish is done, all we need is Issaquah-Preston to be paved and suddenly we have a paved path from Ballard all the way to Snoqualmie Falls (ish). And I still maintain that paving as far as the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel would be an enormous win for bike tourism, even though you’d probably have to put in either two separated paths or install speed bumps, lest the 20+ miles of a 2% descent tempt to many people to fly down it at 30mph.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      You do have to consider equestrian uses. A lot of county trails are used for horse riding, and paving isn’t necessarily good for them.

      Trails in more developed areas benefit from paving the most because paving projects usually widen the trail and improve intersections and driveways. And, of course, they are more likely to be used for transportation and deserve to be treated as important transpo corridors.

      But some of the more far out trails don’t necessarily need to be paved. Making sure the hard-pack gravel is in good shape, fixing divots, getting rid of larger rocks, improving connectivity and such is important. But if traffic levels are lower and the trail is also used by people on horses, I think not paving is fine.

      1. Jim Laudolff

        I agree. Pavement that is not kept in reasonable shape (like say the SRT through Redmond) is worse than a hardpacked gravel that can be re-graded quickly and cheaply. I’d rather not have pavement if it’s not built properly and roots are allowed to push through. I hope the ELST is built properly.

  5. […] like construction reroutes on the Burke-Gilman Trail. On the plus side, you soon will be able to ride all the way from Ballard to Issaquah once King County finishes the final paved stretch along Lake […]

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