The Washington Park Arboretum is said to be home to the largest botanical collection west of the Mississippi, with some 20,000 trees and plants across its 230 acres, and countless birds and rocks and things. Sunday, officials and neighbors gathered along the new Arboretum Loop Trail to celebrate the route’s grand opening with a “vine-cutting,” speeches, and lots of good dogs.
“That is the cutest dog I have seen yet today,” Sally Clark, former Seattle City Council member and the University of Washington’s director of regional and community relations, quipped as a canine in attendance for the grand opening event barked during her address. “And I have seen a lot of dogs this morning.”
The 1.2-mile trail has created a new 12-foot-wide paved path through the leafy area along Lake Washington for walkers, wheelchairs, slow bikes, and strollers and to connect to the park’s meandering trails. $7.8 million in 520 construction mitigation funds from WSDOT powered the project.
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“The history of the Arboretum is a history of partnership,” Clark said Sunday. “Seattle Parks and Rec cares for the property, the land. Then you’ve got UW Botanic Gardens. UW Botanic Gardens owns and cares for the plants and the trees. Then you’ve got the Arboretum Foundation. The foundation provides major support for where we are today and the future in the shape of funds, volunteers, and advocacy.”
Clark also praised Seattle Park for completing construction on the project two months ahead of schedule.
Dan Brown, director of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, said the trail opens up the Arboretum’s environmental riches to everyone.
“The loop trail makes that world class collection much more accessible to everyone who visits the Arboretum,” he said. “As you explore the trail, you can discover beautiful trees, shrubs, and plants that were previously hidden.”
The final phase of the new 520 construction is also slated to begin. The so-called “Rest of the West” portion of the replacement project is planned to include highway lids in the Montlake and Roanoke neighborhoods, the south half of a new west approach bridge, a new Portage Bay Bridge, and a second drawbridge over the Montlake Cut. The first phase of construction — WSDOT is calling it the Montlake phase — is slated to begin late this year. It will create “a new Montlake interchange, a landscaped lid over SR 520, a bicycle/pedestrian ‘land bridge’ east of the lid, and a West Approach Bridge South for eastbound traffic.”
You can learn more about the new Arboretum Loop Trail at seattle.gov.