Work crews are plowing ahead this fall to turn a 4.5-mile segment of the old BNSF railroad tracks between Renton and Bellevue into a bicycle-friendly trail by the first of the year.
Most of the rails already have been pulled from the Eastside Rail Corridor Trail between Coulon Park in Renton and Newcastle Beach Park in Bellevue.
Workers for Interwest Construction Inc. still have to pull up rails along a short stretch near Newcastle Beach Park and are removing thousands of wooden ties and hauling them away.
Roughly a mile section of trail is ready for bicyclists and hikers between Coulon Park and Kennydale Beach Park. The rails and ties have been removed, the ballast has been graded, and a base layer of gravel topped with finely crushed and compacted rock has been spread on top.
That will be the look of the trail between Coulon and Newcastle Beach parks, until King County funds an asphalt topping.
When this section is complete, bicyclists can take the trail from Coulon Park, through Kennydale Beach Park, to Newcastle Beach Park. It also passes the old Quendall Terminals creosote manufacturing facility (now a Superfund cleanup site) and the training facility for the Seattle Seahawks.
All along the way there are constant views of Lake Washington. Waterfront housing flourishes between the trail and the lake.
This project also includes 1 mile of trail at the north end of Bellevue to connect with the 5-mile stretch of rail-trail through Kirkland that’s existed since 2015. That northern connection should be finished in February.
Between Newcastle Beach Park and Kirkland, planners are working on ways incorporate the I-90 crossing, the I-405 crossing, and the scenic Wilburton Trestle. Part of the route will share right-of-way with the new light rail extension from Seattle to Bellevue.
It seems like years since King County acquired more the old BNSF railroad tracks between Renton and Woodinville. Actually, the county took over the rail in 2012 from the Port of Seattle, which had acquired it from BNSF in 2008. That rail corridor had been in business since 1904.
Kirkland quickly took over its 5.75-mile section and put a trail on it in late 2015/early 2015.
Detailed plans on the future of the trail and how it will become a backbone for north-south bicycle travel on the Eastside can be found at King County’s Eastside Rail Corridor Trail website.