Good news Capitol Hill commuters headed to the Eastside: You can get to work without a car or a bus. Wednesday, the SR 520 Trail finally opened to pedestrians and cyclists and everything in between along the northside rail of the Lake Washington floating bridge:
The full length of the State Route 520 bicycle and pedestrian trail across Lake Washington is now open. Part of the West Approach Bridge North Project that built new westbound SR 520 lanes and off-ramps, the new 14-foot-wide trail is the final piece that connects about a dozen miles of trail along SR 520 between Redmond and the Montlake neighborhood in Seattle. The new path connects users to over 60 miles of regional trails.
Officials expect around 1,000 people a day to use the path. We’ll know for sure. Federal grants paid for a new bicycle and pedestrian counter at the trailhead in Montlake. “The counter will track bicyclist and pedestrian use in the 520 corridor, allowing WSDOT to better support these communities,” the agency said.
Wednesday’s grand opening gave the counter plenty of work to do.
Many of the trail’s users will get there via the new Arboretum Loop Trail, a 12-foot-wide paved path for walkers, wheelchairs, slow bikes, and strollers that now winds through the leafy greenspace thanks to $7.8 million in 520 construction mitigation funds from WSDOT.
The 520 Trail, meanwhile, debuts more than a year and a half after the new 520 — the longest floating bridge in the world, at the time at least — opened to motor vehicle traffic with a day of pedestrian traffic to break it in.
The project to remake 520 continues as components of Seattle’s western end of the project with “a box girder style bridge including a bike and pedestrian path over Portage Bay, redesigned highway lids with a new land bridge, and multimodal connectivity improvements” are either still in planning or just beginning construction. 23rd Ave corridor “Vision Zero” work is also slated to continue in 2018.
Meanwhile, the first three phases of the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway are considered complete and the city has said it would be studying the impact on creating safer, calmer streets for biking and walking in the area this year. The greenway’s network of side streets and paths runs on adjacent to 23rd Ave between E Roanoke on the north end and Rainier Ave S to the south. Planning for how best to connect the greenway to safer routes around Montlake and the 520 Trail was still underway as of this fall, SDOT said.
WSDOT says future phases of 520 construction will eventually connect the SR 520 Trail “all the way to I-5.” The next phase of construction to create a lid over the Montlake interchange “with improved bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities,” is set to break ground in late 2018.
All that and the neighborhood is also now home to former Capitol Hill gay bar Purr? Things are looking up in Montlake.
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