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Terrible summer biking news: Key section of Snoqualmie Valley Trail closed until Halloween

CGCy8SSUoAEdUJkSummer just took a bike adventure hit. King County will close a small-but-key section of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail between Duvall and Carnation.

The amazing rail trail — which mostly has a very bikeable hardpack gravel surface — will be closed from June 1 through October 31. The closure is needed so the county can repair “a damaged structure along the Snoqualmie River that protects a state highway, a fiber optic line, and a King County regional trail from river erosion,” according to a press release.

But here’s the really bad part: There will be no detour. The section of the Carnation Duvall Road that runs next to the trail is busy and has little-to-no shoulder, so you will likely want to look for a longer (and likely hillier) route. If you’re walking or on a horse (this is a popular equestrian trail), well, I don’t know what to tell you. Neither does Biking Bis, who knows the area much better than I do:

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Avoiding the blockage in this case would require use of State Route 203 for approximately 3.3 miles, an inadvisable route because of truck traffic and lack of adequate road shoulders for walking or bicycling.

For people who are just heading out for recreation or adventure, this closure is a bummer. But for people who live in Duvall or Carnation who don’t or can’t drive, this closure could be a serious problem. And having no detour or construction access option, anyone trying to get through the area could end up in a dangerous spot.

King County Parks provides the following unhelpful advice: “… no trail detour is available. Trail users are encouraged to take advantage of other portions of King County Parks’ 175-mile regional trail system.”

But our regional trail system is not just for recreation. It’s not just a linear park. It’s important transportation infrastructure. People depend on it, especially in areas where the only other option is to drive. Not everyone can afford a car or is able to drive, and there is no bus service between Duvall and Carnation.

This isn’t just a matter of semantics. If the Snoqualmie Valley Trail is a park, then King County Parks can just close it and say, “Go to another park!” But if it is transportation infrastructure, then King County should find a way to provide a detour or a shuttle service or construction zone escort service of some kind to maintain that connection.

More details from King County:

Vital repairs to a damaged structure along the Snoqualmie River that protects a state highway, a fiber optic line, and a King County regional trail from river erosion is expected to begin in early June.

Work to rebuild the Sinnema Quaale Upper Revetment between Carnation and Duvall requires closing a stretch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail from approximately 1-½ miles south of Northeast 124th Street to 2 miles north of the Stillwater Natural Area.

The trail closure is expected to run from June 1 to Oct. 31, and no trail detour is available. Trail users are encouraged to take advantage of other portions of King County Parks’ 175-mile regional trail system.

The aging revetment – which absorbs and deflects the Snoqualmie River’s erosive energy – has been repeatedly damaged by flooding.

Rebuilding the revetment includes reconstructing about 750 feet of bank, and rebuilding approximately 1,100 feet of the adjacent trail. The $6.3 million project is being funded primarily by the King County Flood Control District, with King County Parks providing funding for rebuilding the trail.

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18 responses to “Terrible summer biking news: Key section of Snoqualmie Valley Trail closed until Halloween”

  1. I called Christie True (the DNRP Department Director) and she said the work need to be done during a dry time of year, but also seemed unaware of the fact that this is a major shutdown in the regional non-motorized transportation infrastructure and said someone else would be back in touch with me with more info why no detours or other accommodations were planned for this construction. Really a shame, the Iron Horse/John Wayne Pioneer trail is finally starting to become a major bicycle tourism destination and this cuts off so many options for getting there on a bike.

    The contact info for King Co DNRP is here: http://directory.kingcounty.gov/GroupDetail.asp?GroupID=12000

    1. Matthew Snyder

      I heard back from the DNRP, who reiterated that they will neither be providing any detour signage, nor, as Al suggested below, placing “Bicycles on road” and “Bicycles may use full lane” signs for a short stretch of 203 near the work zone to calm traffic enough to allow the road to be safely shared.

      The response I received stated that, “While we would prefer to provide an alternative route for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other trail users, there just aren’t safe opportunities available.” Safe opportunities could be *made* available, which is the point that I tried to make in my reply.

      I would encourage anyone else who uses this trail on a regular basis to contact the DNRP and strongly but politely ask for a safe, temporary detour.

  2. bill

    What, can no one read a map? Detour:

    Coming from the north on the trail:
    Right on NE 124th St
    Left on West Snoqualmie Valley Rd NE
    Left on NE 100th St
    Left on NE Carnation Farm Rd
    Right on 310th Ave NE (becomes NE 60th St)
    Cross 203 & find trail
    or from NE 60th:
    Right on 320th Ave NE
    Left on NE 55th St
    Right on 203 for a 1/4 mile and you’re in Carnation

    1. doug

      Yeah, this is a good detour. Also heading up and over on Big Rock Road would be fine if you’re climbing a hill.

      They should really sign these detours, someone expecting a no-brainer trail ride could easily be flummoxed by the twists and turns. I’ve ridden the section of 203 that those folks would likely attempt and, despite being a very experienced cyclists, I found it to be really, truly unpleasant. No shoulder at all and very high speed traffic.

    2. Matthew Snyder

      I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but before anyone says, hey, problem solved, what you’re proposing is an ~8 mile detour that involves at least two roads (W Snoqualmie Valley Rd and Carnation Farm Rd) with zero shoulder, narrow lanes, fast-moving traffic, and a not-insignificant number of large trucks. Not recommended for all but the most confident, fast cyclists, and hardly ideal for the many (majority of?) trail users who ride mountain bikes to access the Tokul trails near the south end.

      1. Duvall Cyclist

        I ride 124th and W Sno-valley road every weekday to and from work and there is no way I’d recommend either of those roads as a valid detour to people who use Sno-valley trail for cycling.

      2. bill

        I’m not being sarcastic. I ride that route all the time. The traffic is not as bad as you make it out to be, particularly on Carnation Farm Rd. Most cyclists are not as wimpy as you seem to think.

  3. Wells

    The all day pedalling Wednesday thru Friday along the seawall mess led me to conclude, once again meanly, Sdot somehow studies alternatives endlessly but regularly puts in place the least effective. Poorly misarranged ped and bikeways along and under the AWV are indeed dangerous. Another vague signature within DOT offices of pure malace shown by DOT leaders, department heads and whoever else within does NOT care about public safety as demonstrated during and after construction. Do these public servants actually care about sensitive vulnerable forest watersheds, wildlife and the fate of humanity? Doubtful. The TPP may designate the Columbia River a fossil fuel corridor under international trade agreement language, implicit, infered, mandated.

    Now go play patty-cake with the Crunican people, children, wheee! She’ll ruin BART and HSR if she gets her way there, chosen for the job fleeing the Seattle HORROR of Bertha failing, fled Portland too where her cheerful incompetence and subtle disregard for public safety on the Ross Isl Bridge rebuild job “sidewalk unusable” violating federal ADA mandate and State Code.

    Those most associated with BERTHA is complicit to a horrific crime.
    Bertha will over time force demolition and in earthquake topple buildings.
    The entire Pioneer Square District is doomed.
    Modern buildings also lost along entire tunnel length.
    Playing patty cake with the Crunican people yet?

  4. I could be missing something, but it looks like there are driveways that cross the trail and the road very close to the ends of the trail closure. Couldn’t you use those driveways to switch over to the road for a very short stretch?

    It would be nice if we could then get a lowered speed limit on that very short stretch of 203 and some “WORK ZONE” and “BICYCLES ON ROAD” signs, plus maybe something that at least gives the appearance of enforcement.

  5. Todd

    It’s another life and death biking issue. What will my fellow bikers do?? Somebody call Oprah.

  6. Kirk

    “While we would prefer to provide an alternative route for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other trail users, there just aren’t safe opportunities available.”
    Of course, the motor vehicle traffic could be routed to the detour noted above (Carnation Farm Road to West Snoqualmie Valley Road) or over to 202, and the trail users could use the roadway. That would certainly be a safe alternative for all users of the area.

    This reminds me of when SDOT was building the West Thomas Street overpass. They needlessly closed the bike trail through Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks for a long stretch to stage equipment and use it for access. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Snoqualmie Valley Trail was just going to be used for the ease of construction, staging equipment and used for construction parking and doesn’t really need to be blocked off.

    After work ends at 3:00 p.m. and on weekends, the trail most likely could be opened. But don’t hold your breath.

  7. Josh

    This is far from the first time that King County Flood Control District has imposed significant traffic impacts without adequate forethought. They’re neither a transportation agency nor a recreation agency, movement of people and goods is not a core competency.

  8. Abby

    I use this trail on a daily basis to get to and from work. I am dissapointed that its being closed for five months, that is a long time. I wish that there had been more notice of this change. And it feels a little disrespectful to those who make an effort to find alternative ways to commute (good for the planet, and good for health), as there did not seem to be much thought to how to mediate this problem.

    I cannot imagine that 202 is a good alternative. Ride home to Carnation – i might try crossing bridge at 124th, riding Snoqualmie Valley Road, and crossing the valley on Carnation Farm Road. It adds about 3 miles to the Duvall-Carnation commute, and the Snoqualmie Valley Road has its dangers…

    Kirk – you said that the trail might be open after 3PM and on weekends? Where did you find that information? Not trying to be snide, just an honest question.

    Perhaps if the trail is still safe to ride they could allow a 7AM-8AM and 5PM-7PM break where people could get through.

    I have contacted Christie True as well, and encourage other trail commuters/users to do so as well!

  9. […] of a safe detour option is also a problem for people who depend on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, as we reported recently. A reader who depends on that trail to commute summed up her frustration with the lack of detour […]

  10. Kirk

    Abby, I said that “the trail most likely could be opened.” I don’t think they are planning on opening it.

    I have witnessed similar trail closures, and the crews end their work day at 3:00 p.m. daily, and they don’t work on the weekends. I’ve witnessed trails closed for construction when no construction is taking place, and the trail is perfectly usable.

  11. Nik

    The section that is closed is about 1/4 mile long. Immediately before and after this section, there is a driveway that connects to SR 202. So it is very easy to detour around the closed section. Sure, 202 is not pleasant, but you’ll be on it for about 1 minute.

    Or, when no one is working, you can just go past the 2 excavators and ride through the closed section. It’s soft dirt, but doable with mountain bike tires.

  12. Zog Duke

    It’s not open by Halloween either, with no notice on the county website or anybody even available to answer questions about when it will be open.

    The King County parks dept. website said it would be open by Oct. 31 so I called on Friday, Oct. 30, to doublecheck. On hold for 20 minutes before being transferred to project manager. Left a voice mail, but no response so I went out there anyway on Oct. 31 to see that somebody had written on a project sign that the new opening date would be November 30.” I’ll believe that when I see it.

    Can’t somebody update the website?

  13. […] The closure was short, but in a bad place for a closure with few good detour options, as we reported back in May. […]

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