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County will close Green River Trail in sections this summer

green-river-levee-maintenance-site-map-may2015 copyIn the past decade, the Green River Trail has been closed as often as it has been open. And just when you thought it might finally be fully open, King County has announced another series of closures through the end of the year and maybe even continuing into 2016.

The trail provides crews access to work on the levy, which is obviously important work. But this trail — which provides a rare safe biking and walking connection in south King County — has been closed so often that it is simply undependable as a transportation route.

Adding to the problem, King County will not guarantee trail detours. Sometimes you’ll get a detour, sometimes you’ll be spit out onto dangerous streets without any help. The lack 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 this way:

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I use this trail on a daily basis to get to and from work. I am disappointment 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. (Read more…)

These trails are lifelines for people trying to get around on foot or bike. They are important parts of the region’s transportation infrastructure, and they need to be treated as such. This means finding a way to provide quality detours, even if that means making space on nearby streets or highways.

More details on the Green River Trail closures, from King County:

Green River Trail users should expect temporary, intermittent closures or delays.

King County will be doing maintenance work on the Green River levee system starting summer 2015 to address critical levee safety issues. Work may extend into 2016.

Different trail segments will be closed for periods ranging from a few days to a few weeks as crews move through the system doing this important maintenance work.

Trail closure signs will be posted on either end of the work areas. In some cases alternate routes will be recommended while in others they will not be available.

During maintenance work, heavy trucks and equipment will be operating on the levee maintenance road that also serves as a recreational trail along the Green River in the cities of Tukwila and Kent. Work will include removal of stumps, dense hedges, fences and debris and replacement of stormwater outfall structures.

In order to ensure the safety of trail users and work crews, trails users are asked to abide by these trail closures. Every effort will be made to minimize the amount of time each trail segment is closed.

As work moves forward, the location of current and upcoming closures will be posted on this page. Trail users are encouraged to sign up for weekly updates or follow #GreenRiverTrail @KCDNRP on Twitter and like the King County Rivers Facebook page (external links) for current and upcoming closure schedule.

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14 responses to “County will close Green River Trail in sections this summer”

  1. Josh

    Note how the County’s release refers to “recreational users” — people in flood control simply do not see bicycles as transportation and do not believe there’s anything wrong with closing routes without providing a detour. Just drive your toy to a different trail.

  2. Merlin

    “…temporary, intermittent closures or delays…” If this were a highway, “temporary, intermittent closures or delays” would mean at most a half hour closure, unless a detour was provided. Insulting.

    1. Rich

      Not necessarily. Last year a bridge near Carnation underwent some needed maintenance, and the road was closed for months. It inconvenienced cyclists who like that route for crossing the valley. It also inconvenience local folks who drive that route. We all found alternates. This summer West Snoqualmie Valley Rd. will be closed for about a month as will High Bridge Road. Lots of cyclists use these routes, and local drivers rely on them as well. The reality is that when you build infrastructure in or adjacent to a flood plain, that infrastructure takes a beating and requires maintenance. It’s unfortunate, but if you like nice flat routes, flood plains are attractive locations. They just, like, flood every few years, and the damage accumulates. So we all come up with creative solutions to work around fragile infrastructure. If we care about the GRT closure, and if the county won’t give us a detour, I’m sure some intrepid cyclists will find one or more good ones. Hopefully they will share this knowledge widely.

      1. Todd


  3. Adam

    When was the last time the trail was even fully open?

  4. Rob Norheim

    ‘Levee’, not ‘levy’

  5. A lot of what’s missing for good temporary detours is exactly what’s missing for a permanent useful cycling network: decent east-west routes that cross highways and rivers and connect the trails to important destinations. If we had that the closure of any one trail would be what the closure of any one street is for drivers: an annoyance that we can live with. This isn’t like the area around the Burke-Gilman where topology makes it hard to build a comprehensive, resilient network for any kind of transportation. It’s a flat valley!

  6. Todd

    I’m getting tired of this northern Seattle biking right mentality. There’s already a detour. It’s called the Interurban South Trail. Riding the GRT, while scenic, is not paramount to ride through the valley. And there are hundreds of low volume roads you can ride and provide your own detours. If only some of you only would get out more. I’ve covered most of ride-able King County on my bike. Why haven’t you?

    1. For one key example, if you’re going to Southcenter from the Green River Trail you have your choice of fairly low-volume routes. If you’re coming from the Interurban you have to cross the river at 180th or Strander. This is physically possible but it will turn off the vast majority of people. That’s not a “northern Seattle biking right mentality”, it’s been proven just about everywhere.

      The Interurban is a great trail for getting around — as a midwesterner I love my flat, straight routes. It would be more useful for more people if the east-west routes were stronger. I agree that we shouldn’t be overly alarmed about these closures, which aren’t nearly the worst thing going in greater Seattle, but they do highlight the gaps in the valley’s cycling network.

      1. Geronimo

        Agree that there are bigger things to worry about in that neighborhood (from bike forums:)

        Proposed Arena Site in Tukwila would possibly bisect the interurban trail

        I just heard about this and I don’t know how much attention it is getting and I know a lot of you guys and gals also bike commute so this may effect you if you use the interurban trail. I was forwarded this by one of the members of the bike club at my company and I just want to pass it on so other people in our larger community have a chance to get out and make comments.

        One of the proposed sites for the new arena that is being talked about is just south of I405 by the train station in Tukwila adjacent to Longacres way. The interurban trail passes through a lot of private land which all has an easement for it. The concern is that the land the interurban trail is on in that area is on PSE land and there is no easement. Apparently at the recent meeting they had regarding this site it was stated by Tukwila planning staff that if the arena went in here there would be no guarantee that the trail would exist afterwards.

        I’m not anti arena but I am very PRO-Interurban trail. I sent them a message and signed up for emails regarding the proposal.

      2. Josh

        The Tukwila arena proposal has been filed with the city for SEPA review. Anyone interested in preserving the continuity of the Interurban should definitely submit public comment on this issue.

        The Interurban is recognized as an important regional route for nonmotorized transportation — it’s identified as such in King County and Puget Sound Regional Council long-range plans. Would allowing a closure or degredation of the Interurban meet concurrency requirements under the Growth Management Act?

        Sketches released to date don’t show the Interurban, either as an existing facility or as something to be retained after the project is built. King County’s original easement for the Interurban was for 25 years, with an option for 25 more, but PSE and King County haven’t agreed on a renewal yet, many years after the original 25 year term expired.

      3. Josh

        FYI, for anyone else interested, you can comment on the arena proposal at Tukwila’s web site.


      4. Down in the Bay Area they kept the Aquino Creek Trail intact while building the new 49ers stadium but it’s badly disrupted for stadium events. Apparently, though the trail is across the creek from the stadium, it’s within the stadium’s security perimeter, because we live in an indescribably stupid world.

  7. Harrison Davignon

    Will the trial ever stay full opened? Todd is right that the interurban trail is a detour and the green river south end connects with the interurban trail in Auburn. But here were he is kind of wrong. First off the green river trail has way more green belts and quit sections then the interurban trail and if people live and work on the green river trail, the closers are very inconvenient. Luckily I never had the a closer on the trial, but I used the trial to transport myself to and from work at Home Depot. It was a great alternative to busy streets. We should have flaggers and do one lane closures like on streets.

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