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Snohomish-to-Woodinville trail discussions fall apart, put on hold

From a June 2013 presentation
From a June 2013 presentation

Remember those amazing plans to build a 12-mile trail to connect the City of Snohomish (and the start of the Centennial Trail) to Woodinville, the Sammaish River/Burke-Gilman Trail and the Eastside Trail? Well, there’s bad news this week: Talks between the county and the Port of Seattle have collapsed, the Herald reports.

The trail link would have been a major improvement to bicycle mobility in the region, allowing people to travel from Ballard and Eastside communities all the way to the Skagit County border using only trails.

With the 520 Trail finally set to reach Seattle in coming years and with Bellevue making first steps to develop their section of the Eastside Rail Corridor to connect to Kirkland’s crushed gravel trail, a connection to Snohomish would be an amazing link that opens up huge swaths of Snohomish county to bicycle transportation and travel. In fact, the county has been promoting bicycle tourism with some help from WA Bikes in recent years, a sign that they understand the incredible opportunities these trails could bring.

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So news that the trail connection has been put on hold is discouraging. From the Herald:

“We just agreed with the port that maybe we need to start fresh,” county public works director Steve Thomsen said. “And we’re not sure what that looks like right now.”

Complications have included how to accommodate both train tracks and a pedestrian-bicycle trail over some bridges and trestles, Thomsen said. There are also potential ownership questions on portions of the trail.

The county’s plan has always been to use the corridor for both recreation and train traffic.

Snohomish city leaders have long eyed the rail segment’s potential to ferry trains full of tourists and — some day — even commuters. Mayor Karen Guzak called the setback “a short-term disappointment,” though she still harbors “a long-term hope.”

“We are still really excited about the potential for both rail and trail, but we understand the complexities of this purchase,” Guzak said. “We just need to be patient.”

The rail line sees minimal freight use today, but Snohomish County’s desires to maintain rail (and maybe add some passenger service) in addition to a trail makes construction plans complicated. This is especially true for the bridge structures.

Snohomish County had already approved a plan to buy the rail corridor. You can see more details about the plans in our previous story.

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11 responses to “Snohomish-to-Woodinville trail discussions fall apart, put on hold”

  1. Todd

    I ride all these trails all the time and have carved out my own road niche from Woodinville to Snohomish. I’d love to ride on all designated bike trail but honestly there’s not much to complain about. There are plenty of back roads to explore here. MapMyRide will give you plenty of choices…. if you aren’t the experimental type.

    And Tom, shoddy journalism, buddy. How could you leave out all the changes happening on the Eastlake Sammamish Trail?? Heh.

    1. JAT

      There’s a trail from Eastlake to Sammamish? Outstanding!

      Not sure it’s fair to waggle the “shoddy journalism” stick.

      1. Todd

        Oh, I am just ribbing Tom. I don’t come around here as much anymore. He’s got a great site.


  2. MikeG

    I don’t think the effort to keep this a functioning rail line is worth it. There is minimal usage, the operator has gone bankrupt and needlessly delayed the progress on the CTC by suing to provide rail service in Bellevue. The court threw that one out because they determined that there was no demand and the plaintiffs had no reasonable expectation of success given their shaky financials.

    No, rip out the rails and put in a trail. It will be much cheaper than trying to figure out how to run trains (about 3 a week) on the same ROW as a non-motorized trail.

  3. If King and Snohomish counties, the port of Seattle, and the cities of Snohomish, Woodinville, Redmond, Kirkland…

    … if we want a bike network we can build one. We have all the ROW and all the money we could ever need. If any of our representatives tell us otherwise, if they tell us our ability to build a bike network is contingent on negotiations, property acquisition, more money, or anything but our own will

    1. Todd

      I’ll be dead by the time anything actually gets done. Not holding my breath.

      1. If there isn’t a good bike route between Woodinville and Snohomish within your lifetime we know why that will be the case, so you can get your tombstone engraved today. Because leaders like Steve Thomsen and Karen Guzak (not to pick on them, but they were quoted in the article) are willing to consider cycling as a possible use for resources they don’t have, but won’t commit to using the resources they do have to build a cycling network.

    2. Todd

      Problem is once we get a dedicate path along this route, we’re going to want more, like one Nakashima Barn through Lake McMurray and the entire Skagit Valley and beyond. Wait. That’s not a problem. There is already discussions of putting in a bike path from Arlington to Darrington and I’d personally like to see a paved path along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail from Duvall to Rattlesnake Lake and connect that sucker up with this future Woodinville to Snohomish connector. Alright. I’m in guys.

      1. Snohomish County has been claiming the existence of the Whitehorse Trail between Arlington and Darrington for quite a while now, even though bridges are barricaded along its route, and there’s a lot of ovegrowth now.

        It’s kind of a sad joke to me, really.

    3. Todd

      It’s a totally sad joke. If you are in Darrington, there are marks of a trail. But I once drove out just outside of Arlington looking for it and had trouble finding it. It’s so bad you can’t even walk it.

  4. […] On hold: A trail linking Snohomish to Woodinville has fallen apart, for now. […]

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