Five miles of the Eastside Trail could open by the end of the year

From the Eastside Rail Corridor Master Plan.

Five miles of the Eastside Trail are on schedule to open by the end of the year, including a mile extension from the current end of the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail and four miles of trail between Renton and Newport Beach Park just south of I-90.

These interim trail sections will be hardpack gravel, similar to Kirkland’s existing section of the trail. Hardpack gravel is very bikeable using any kind of bike and is much cheaper and easier to build while the full, multi-million-dollar paved vision for the trail is developed and funded.

Speaking of the full trail vision, that is also moving forward. King County recently selected its preferred alternative as recommended in the Eastside Rail Corridor Master Plan that the King County Council approved 9-0 back in February. This boring-sounding step is an important technical step closer to crafting a construction-ready trail design. The sooner the County has designs in hand, the sooner they can begin the search for grants to help fund it.

The single biggest gap in the trail is also the biggest potential asset of the whole plan: The Wilburton Trestle. This amazing, towering railroad structure in Bellevue needs to be rehabbed in order to host the trail, and it’s going to be the single most expensive part of the whole plan. State, regional and private partners have already committed $10 million of the $13.5 million trestle project budget.

Combined with a nearby I-405 crossing that is planned as part of a state freeway project, the two most seemingly insurmountable hurdles for the trail could be cleared within a couple years. Compared to the trestle and the I-405 crossing, the rest of the trail should be a cakewalk (yes, I know, knock on wood, salt over the shoulder, etc). Trail projects of this magnitude often take decades to be completed (for example, the first section of the Burke-Gilman Trail opened in the 70s, and the Ballard section is still incomplete), so this is basically light speed for a major trail in a developed area.

If everything lines up perfectly, the full trail could be open in 2020 or 2021.

There are two open houses in September for those interested in the sections opening this year and what construction will be like (see details below). Cascade Bicycle Club also has a new action signup form if you want to stay up to date on the project and be ready to voice your support when needed.

Here are the sections scheduled to open by the end of 2017:

More details, from King County:

Rail removal and interim trail construction starting soon!

This fall, we will be removing rails in portions of the ERC and opening segments of interim gravel trail. A total of five miles of interim trail will open later this year!

Join us at one of these open houses to learn more about this work and what to expect during construction.

Renton: Thursday, September 7
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Renton Highlands Public Library (map)
2801 NE 10th St
Renton, WA 98056

Bellevue: Saturday, September 9
1 – 2:30 p.m.
Bellevue Public Library (map)
1111 110th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

Segments that will be opening include a one-mile-long section from the Cross Kirkland Corridor at 108th Ave NE to Northup Way. This segment will also connect into Bellevue’s Spring District south of SR 520, with a connection from the ERC to bike lanes on 120th Ave NE by the end of the year.

A four-mile-long segment from Gene Coulon Park in Renton to Newcastle Beach Park in Bellevue will also be opening, with connections at either end to the existing Lake Washington Loop Trail.

Trail design begins this fall

King County Parks is moving from master planning the ERC Trail into trail design this year. Design will begin this fall on:

  • The Wilburton Segment through Bellevue, which extends from the Cross Kirkland Corridor at 108th Ave NE to I-90, including design of a direct connection to the I-90/Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail! This trail segment includes renovating the Wilburton Trestle, originally built in 1904, as a trail bridge while preserving its historical character. At nearly 1,000 feet long and more than 100 feet off the ground, the Wilburton Trestle is the largest timber train trestle in the Pacific Northwest and will be one of the most iconic elements of the ERC Trail.
  • A trail bridge to cross over the busy NE 8th Street in Bellevue.
  • A trail bridge over I-405 near the Mercer Slough and a 2.5-mile-long trail segment south of I-90 between Coal Creek Parkway and Ripley Lane. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will lead these trail segments in partnership with King County Parks.

Trail design will involve the community in a variety of ways throughout the process. Visit the trail project website and sign up for project alerts to stay informed of opportunities to become involved and provide input.

Notice of Action Taken on Final Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

On February 13, 2017, the Metropolitan King County Council approved the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) Trail Master Plan by motion No. 14805. In advance of moving the project forward into design, on August 1, 2017, King County Parks and Recreation Division Director Kevin Brown selected the Master Plan’s Preferred Alternative alignment for a regional trail (also known as a shared use path) to accommodate non-motorized transportation and recreation in the railbanked portion of the ERC.

In accordance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), RCW 43.21C.080, a Notice of Action has been issued. This Notice of Action only relates to selection of the preferred alternative for trail alignment as identified in the Final Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Trail design and construction will be the subject of future environmental review and are not governed by the Notice of Action.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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9 Responses to Five miles of the Eastside Trail could open by the end of the year

  1. Robert Norheim says:

    What is the most reasonable way to connect from the end of the 520 trail near Lake Washington Blvd over to the Cross-Kirkland Corridor? Is there some way through the office park to the park and ride to the CKC?

  2. ride bikes says:

    You have two options: grind up 108th Ave NE to the current end of the trail just north of the S. Kirkland P&R or continue east on Northup Way below I-405 (it has a marked and ample bike lane in both directions as of the end of July) to 120th Ave NE, where you’d make a right turn then another right turn at the new “end” of the trail

  3. Omor Almamun says:

    Why are they building the trail out of gravel? You never build gravel roads for cars unless it’s a small country or something like that.

  4. Gary says:

    From #1 to #2 is already quiet roads. The trail will level out the rolling hills there, but it won’t improve the ride all that much. From Just past the Seahawks training facility there is a bike lane along the road, but it’s not all ages safe. So it will be good to have the trail there. Too bad Gene Coulon park doesn’t let you ride the paths now. But soon…..

  5. Carl says:

    When will this be extended to woodinville to tie into the burke gilman/sammamish trail?

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