The East Lake Sammamish Trail is winning! (But it’s not over yet.)
Photo courtesy of King County Parks.

By Robin Randels, Cascade Community Advocate and Jan Bird, Friends of the East Lake Sammamish Trail

The results of a four-day hearing are in, and the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) is now one segment closer to completion!

A regional trail for people who walk and bike, the East Lake Sammamish Trail runs between Issaquah and Redmond. It follows an inactive rail line along the east shore of Lake Sammamish and forms a crucial connection in a 44-mile regional trail system that links the Puget Sound at Shilshole Marina to the Issaquah/Preston Trail.

Over time, segments of the trail in Issaquah and Redmond have been paved and finished to national standards — 18 feet wide, three feet buffers, landscaping, and resting places along the way. The first section in northern Sammamish opened in June 2015 and provides a safe, comfortable place for walking and biking.

Still to receive the finishing touches are two segments, A and B, of the gravel section between Redmond and Issaquah. These pieces have been disputed by trailside neighbors, consequently delaying the construction scheduled for October 2015.

Thursday, Jan. 28 marked the final day of arguments at the hearing of three appeals that challenged the trail’s progress. Among the issues were trail width, stop sign placement, tree preservation, right of way ownership and stormwater responsibilities. The final ruling, delivered in February, largely removed these barriers for the South Sammamish segment A from SE 43rd Way to SE 33rd Street (approximately 1.2 miles). Barring future appeals, King County will also move forward with design of Segment B from SE 33rd Street to Inglewood Hill Road (approximately 3.6 miles).

However, since a Shoreline Substantial Development permit for both segments A and B must be obtained from the City of Sammamish before the next section of trail construction can begin, it is critical for the city council and staff to know that completion of the trail in a timely manner is important to both the citizens of Sammamish and the larger community.

Show your support for the East Lake Sammamish Trail:

The ELST has great potential to get more people out bicycling once it’s upgraded to the national standards and connects with the rest of our Puget Sound region. We’ll need your support over the next year to make this complete connection a reality. We will have several great opportunities for you to get involved with trail advocacy efforts.

Join the amazing advocates at Friends of the East Lake Sammamish Trail Facebook page to learn more and add your support. Visit their website at http://eastlakesammamishtrail.org/

E-mail Robin at robinr@cascade.org to get involved.