King County bike trails news: East Lake Sammamish and Green River

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Time for some good news and bad news updates on a couple of King County bike trails.

Good news: The King County Flood Control District has allocated money to remove sandbags from the bike trail atop the Green River levee in Tukwila and Kent.

Bad news: A 2.2-mile stretch of East Lake Sammamish Trail is closed for up to a year for paving and other work just north of Issaquah.

Green River

A 26-mile stretch of 3-foot high sandbags, above, were installed in October 2009 throughout Tukwila, Kent and Auburn to protect against the possibility of flooding due to leaks noted upstream at the Howard Hanson Dam.

The Green River Trail was limited to pedestrians because of the work, and bicyclists were shunted off to the Interurban Trail that runs between the town of Pacific and Seattle. As the Army Corps of Engineers has repaired its dam last fall, those sandbags are no longer needed.

According to Reagan Dunn, chair of the King County Flood District executive committee:

“In addition to the barriers being an eyesore, they impeded the County’s ability to properly operate and maintain the levees. Without the obstacles, it will also allow the public greater access to the public parks and the regional trail system in the Green River Valley.”

The $5.8 million removal job was approved by the flood control district supervisors on May 14. How long before those sand bags can be removed remains to be seen, although I’m sure it will take longer than we’d like.

A press release from the flood control district explains:

“Now that funding has been secured, Green River Valley cities are planning to move quickly to begin work on removing the sandbags. The sandbags are filled with sand, dirt or gravel and each weigh approximately two tons. The sand will need to be removed, and may be reused. The bidding process is expected to account for the salvage value of the sand.”

East Lake Sammmamish Trail

King County is launching another reconstruction project on the East Lake Sammamish Trail, this time near Issaquah.

The 2.2-mile stretch, at left, between Northwest Gilman Boulevard and SE 43rd Way will be closed for a year. The only real detour in the area is to use the bike lanes along East Lake Sammamish Parkway through the strip commercial district.

While that’s an unfortunate side effect of the reconstruction, there has been a lot of support to upgrade the 11-mile gravel trail between Issaquah and Redmond to a paved surface.

The King County Natural Resources and Parks Department says the job entails removing the existing gravel and building a 12-foot wide asphalt trail with gravel shoulders, concrete sidewalk connections, retaining walls, fences, signs and landscaping for the surrounding wetlands.

The job is estimated to cost $2.74 million.

King County acquired the abandoned railroad corridor in 1998 and opened the trail in 2006 after some community opposition.

A 2-mile section adjacent to Marymoor Park in Redmond was closed for asphalt paving between May and November last year. That job was finished early and under budget.

Design for a North Sammamish segment began in December;  construction should begin in 2013.

When all this paving is complete, a paved bicycling surface will exist for 44 miles between Ballard and Issaquah.

Although the packed gravel isn’t ideal for narrow bike tires, I’ve found the existing surface on the East Lake Sammamish Trail to be rideable on any bike tire.


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