King County’s Regional Trails System in 2017: Making Connections
By Jean White, Guest Contributor & King County Parks Regional Trails Program Manager

Here at King County Parks, we are looking forward to 2017 being a big year for our Regional Trails System, with new trail segments coming on line, others in design and construction, and all 175 miles kept safe and smooth for you to enjoy. 

The Vision

With a long-term vision of 300 miles of trails connecting 30 cities and three counties, investing in King County’s Regional Trails System was a major element of the 2014-2019 King County Parks, Trails, and Open Space Replacement Levy.  When King County voters approved the levy by 70 percent, we heard loud and clear that you wanted more regional trails and safe, accessible connections to/from the trails in your communities.

It’s going to take strong partnerships and massive collaboration, but King County Parks is dedicating staff and resources to making it happen because we have seen – and you have likely experienced firsthand – how our Regional Trails System offers a rich and diverse array of benefits to our region. 

The Reason 

Health
Trails, green spaces, river walkways – all promote active recreation – reducing factors linked to obesity, diabetes, chronic illness, and a reduction in life expectancy, especially in communities of color.

Access
It’s important that everyone have access to recreational opportunities, regardless of age, income, or ability. A well-designed and maintained trail can unify a community and provide that safe access.

Growth
Constructed thoughtfully, King County Park’s Regional Trail System can provide countless opportunities for renewal and growth. Both economic growth for community businesses and increased property value for adjacent landowners.

Environment
Every commuter riding to work on the trail is one less single-occupancy driver on the road. This lessens pollution, helps to promote a healthier, cleaner environment for residents, and lowers health-care costs for everyone.

So it’s easy to see why the improvement and expansion of our Regional Trails System is at the top of King County Parks’ 2017 “To-Do” list! 

The Future

Here’s what’s on deck for us in 2017, and have a look on TrailFinder to plan your next adventure and check out the work that is happening on the trails!

Foothills Trail (In design in 2017) 
  • Project includes a 1.1-mile-long paved regional trail, as well as a new bridge across the White River, filling a critical missing link in the 21 mile Foothills Trail corridor linking King and Pierce Counties.
Green to Cedar Rivers Trail (North Segment in design in 2017)
  • When completed, the trail will create an 11-mile-long paved regional trail connecting Maple Valley and Black Diamond, creating an urban to rural pathway.  North segment, which is currently in design, will be a 3-mile-long trail extending from the Cedar River Trail to SE Kent-Kangley Rd.
Lake to Sound Trail (Construction completion and design in 2017)
  • When completed, the trail will run 16 miles from the south end of Lake Washington in Renton to Puget Sound in Des Moines.
  • The 1.5-mile-long Segment B in Burien and SeaTac along Des Moines Memorial Drive scheduled to open in February, and “Segment C” to begin design in 2017
East Lake Sammamish Trail (Construction and design in 2017)
  • Once built, the 11-mile-long trail will complete the 44-mile-long “Locks to Lake” corridor, linking Puget Sound in Seattle to the Cascade Foothills on continuous paved pathways.
  • The South Sammamish Segment A is currently under construction, with the final portion, South Sammamish Segment B under design review

[Editors note: Completing the East Lake Sammamish Trail is a top priority for Cascade. Read the latest on Cascade's advocacy efforts, sign up to recieve news from Cascade on the project through our Braking News newsletter and/or advocacy email alerts.]

Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) (Rail removal, interim trail segments and design in 2017)
  • When completed, a new 16.7-mile-long regional trail along the Eastside will combine with the existing 5.75 mile Cross Kirkland Corridor – also a part of the ERC – making 22.5 miles of continuous trail with direct links to five other existing regional trails.
  • Removal of the rails from 108th Avenue NE in Bellevue to Gene Coulon Park in Renton will begin in 2017 and allow for segments of an interim gravel trail to be opened for public use in 2017. 
  • Gaps will remain on certain sections through Bellevue until the Wilburton Trestle, the Wilburton I-405 Bike/Ped Bridge and other key crossings can be constructed. These important features will begin design in 2017, with construction targeted for 2020.

[Editors note: When complete, the Eastside Rail Corridor will be a 28-mile north/south transportation corridor providing a connected and protected place for people to walk and bike. In early 2016 Cascade formed a non-profit coalition, the Eastside Greenway Alliance, to advocate for timely build out of this corridor. The project is a high priority for Cascade and our non-profit partners becasue the project will literally change the way that people work, live and play in East King County by providing active transportation connections between residential areas, activity centers and destinations in Woodinville, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and Renton. Read the latest on Cascade's advocacy efforts, and the Eastside Greenway Alliance. Also, sign up to recieve news from Cascade on the project through our Braking News newsletter and/or advocacy email alerts.]

Green River Extension (Planning and Design in 2017)
  • This project will extend the Green River Trail from its current terminus at Cecil Moses Park north along W Marginal Way Place to the Seattle City Limits, completing an important regional trail connection by safely linking the communities in south Seattle, including South Park, to the greater regional trail network.
  • Currently in the planning and preliminary design phase, King County is developing some conceptual design alternatives, and is planning to begin public outreach in mid-2017.
  • The project is funded for design and permitting through 2018. An estimated start date for construction would be 2019 or 2020.

Community Connections 

  • King County partnership projects with other jurisdictions creating non-motorized connections from Regional Trails to other important regional destinations.
  • The first Mobility Connections project, in partnership with Tukwila, will establish a connection between Southcenter and the Green River Trail, linking with Tukwila’s Southcenter Pedestrian Bridge project.
  • Coordination with Tukwila regarding the design and implementation of the project will continue through 2017, while other opportunities are explored throughout the county.

For more information and to sign up to receive alerts about your favorite trail, visit kingcounty.gov/parks/trails.