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Construction begins on penultimate segment of the E Lake Sammamish Trail

1200_913w_trailmap_elst-samm-a-closedKing County has started construction to pave 1.3 miles of the East Lake Sammamish Trail, bringing the key walking and biking link between Redmond and Issaquah that much closer to completion.

The trail, funded by a combination of Federal, state and regional sources, has been a long time coming. So many people have worked to advocate for this trail over many years, and King County successfully stood up to several legal challenges from trail opponents.

The southernmost and northernmost sections of the trail are already completed, and they are very high quality. The trail serves a transportation purpose, but it also provides people access to public spaces along the lake.

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The existing gravel trail will be closed during construction, and people biking will be detoured to E Lake Sammamish Pkwy, which has decent paved shoulders. The work will take a year to complete for this segment, but the total period of construction will likely be longer once work on the final segment gets under way.

The final 3.6-mile section of trail is still in the design phase, and “construction [is] expected to begin when permitting and design are complete,” according to a King County press release:

Upgrades are coming to another segment of King County’s East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST), as crews begin work to convert a 1.3-mile stretch of the trail through Sammamish from a gravel-topped interim trail into a master planned paved trail that is wider, safer, and offers more amenities for trail users.

In order to ensure safety of the public and construction workers, the ELST will be closed from Southeast 43rd Way to Southeast 33rd Street beginning Monday, Dec. 19. The closure is expected to last for about 12 months, when there will be no public access along this trail segment, also known as “South Sammamish A.”

East Lake Sammamish Parkway, which runs parallel to the ELST, features bike lanes and sidewalks for people who want to travel around the closed trail stretch. Want to explore other King County trails in the area? Try the new TrailFinder website, which offers detailed information about local regional trails, plus miles of nearby backcountry trails. Check out TrailFinder at http://gismaps.kingcounty.gov/TrailFinder/.

Work planned along the closed stretch of the ELST includes removing the existing interim gravel trail surface and constructing an 18-foot-wide trail comprised of a 12-foot-wide asphalt surface with 3-foot-wide gravel shoulders on each side of the paved pathway, installing concrete sidewalk connections, retaining walls, fencing and signage, plus wetland mitigation planting and landscaping.

The trail will be made safer by improved sightlines, enhanced intersections, and improved drainage.

The $10.5 million total project cost is funded in part by the 2014-19 Parks, Trails, and Open Space Replacement Levy in addition to $1.25 million in grant funding from federal and state sources.

The final portion of the ELST that will be redeveloped from an interim soft-surface trail to a paved regional trail is the 3.6-mile-long stretch from Southeast 33rd Street to Inglewood Hill Road, known as “South Sammamish B.” This segment is currently in design, with construction expected to begin when permitting and design are complete.

Design and construction of South Sammamish segments A and B will continue to adhere to agreements made during the planning phase to provide a safe, multi-use regional trail for bicyclists, pedestrians, joggers, skaters, strollers, wheelchairs, and users of all ages and abilities.

Visit the project website for ongoing construction updates and additional information. Questions? Call the project hotline at 1-888-688-4886 or via email, [email protected].

King County purchased the 11-mile-long East Lake Sammamish rail banked corridor in 1998. An interim soft-surface trail opened for public use 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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2 responses to “Construction begins on penultimate segment of the E Lake Sammamish Trail”

  1. William

    This is great. It will be nice to see this completed.

  2. “A 44-mile-long regional urban trail corridor from Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood to Issaquah”? That’s a 19-mile trip as the crow flies and a 24-mile trip by car; the extra mileage is nothing to brag about.

    And it’s dishonest for the county or city to claim completion of both the RCC and ELST with the gap across 520 as it is. Ask any cyclist whether these trails are “complete”. Which one of the following attitudes is going to get us a comprehensive cycling network?

    1. It’s hard to design and build, so we’ll define the project to exclude it, put it on a list of things to do in the future with no timeline, and hold a ribbon-cutting.
    2. It’s hard to ride, so we’ll acknowledge that it’s not complete and work with WSDOT to make improvements at every opportunity.

    To give credit where it’s due: on NE 75th between Roosevelt and 15th SDOT first played the “it’s too hard”/”it’s out of scope” game. After pressure from cyclists over leaving a gap right at the intersection between two bike routes it went back to the drawing board and came up with a design that will improve northbound and east-west routes, and turns between them, as part of a project on Banner Way immediately to the west.

    Just as the 75th improvements are meaningful but don’t get things to a perfect final form, there are things we could do around 202/520 that would meaningfully improve the connection north from the ELST without building the two underpasses and bridge that a perfect route would have. If we’re going to do that big improvement soon maybe it’s not worth doing an interim project — we should at least be asking! I can see three things we could do, any one of which would be a meaningful improvement, and which, combined, would amount to an acceptable interim connection:

    1. Connect the north end of the trail up to the existing crosswalk. This way it’s not a confusing dead-end and cyclists that stay on the south/west side of 202 are saved a significant about of sidewalk riding and a few driveway crossings.
    2. Widen the sidewalk along 202 under 520 to MUP width. I’m no highway engineer, but it doesn’t look hard considering how much land there is past the fence.
    3. Widen the sidewalk along 202 between 520 and the Bear Creek Trail to MUP width. That’s a little harder because part of it is on a bridge. I’d just make all the general-purpose lanes narrower. It’s 60′ curb-to-curb on the bridge (the hardest constraint on total width), with five lanes averaging 12′ apiece. If I really needed to rob some money I’d rob a bank, because that’s where the money is. This would require a lot of restriping (including nice transitions to and from the narrowed lanes) and a curb extension — not something you do overnight, but not a billion-dollar project either!

    But I bet 20 years from now cyclists are still skitching down that 5′ sidewalk.

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