Planning is well underway for the ERC Trail, and there has been a significant outreach effort by the project team to keep the public informed about these plans. If you have not taken time to learn about the project, here is some information, gathered from the ERC Trail Draft Master Plan and from public meetings to date.
The southern end of the ERC Trail will start in Kennydale at the north end of Gene Coulon Park, and proceed northward in Kirkland, for a total distance of 16.7 miles. The trail will utilize the former Burlington Northern Railroad right-of-way for its entire length. The goal of this project is to connect the Eastside’s communities by linking to: existing and planned regional and local trails; transit centers, park & rides and the East Link light rail stations (in Bellevue); and residential, commercial and business centers. Throughout its length, the ERC Trail will provide non-motorized active transportation options (bicycling, for example) and expanded recreational opportunities (walking, running, etc.).
The project planning process is complex, and includes all sorts of considerations, including: parking and access points for the public, safety (particularly in places where roads cross the trail), drinking water, bathrooms, attractive landscaping, and overall ambiance. Although it is expected that the trail will be located on the same path as the existing railbed, the planning process does include off-railbed placement in some areas where it makes better sense to do so. In general, the plan envisions 12-14 feet of pavement with a 6 foot wide gravel shoulder on one side and a 2 foot gravel shoulder on the other.
Outreach by the Project leadership to the public has been good. Their website, www.kingcounty.gov/erc provides you with access to the complete Draft Master Plan and EIS; copies are also available for viewing at local libraries, public open houses have been held at public locations (ours was at Kennydale Elementary on 3/22), and recently, meetings were held in private homes along the length of the corridor. Out of all of this transparency and willingness to hear the public’s input, there is a general acceptance by people (especially those who live directly next to the corridor) that if the trail is designed and built as a “world class” trail, it will be an asset to residents and visitors alike.
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