New trail gives Issaquah access
Eastside bikers and pedestrians waited patiently as Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger snipped a 14-foot gold ribbon Wednesday.
They were eager to put foot — and wheel — onto the newly completed Issaquah-High Point Trail Connector, a bike and pedestrian trail that extends from the south end of the East Lake Sammamish Trail and runs along the north side of Interstate 90 to the Issaquah Highlands.
The $1.5 million trail, funded primarily by state and federal grants, has been in the works for four years, when the city received its first grant for the link. Construction began in May.
"It's an important link as Issaquah grows as an urban center," said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, R-Redmond.
The connector provides access to the Mountains to Sound Greenway from the Issaquah-Preston Trail. It's part of the King County Regional Trail System and the Interstate 90 Cross State Trail System and consists of nearly one mile of a 10-foot-wide paved surface with 2-foot gravel shoulders on each side.
Finding a safe highway alternative for nonmotorists was the goal, said Bill Chapman, president of the Mountains to Sound Greenway board of directors.
"You can bring a 5-year-old on training wheels down the trail," he said. "You can't on Front Street [the city center's major road]."
Previously, the only route to the Highlands from Issaquah's city center was crossing Interstate 90 at the Sunset Interchange and continuing on busy surface streets.
The connector will encourage Issaquah residents to bike and walk, Frisinger said. "It lets people get off the streets and have a chance to look at nature in a more close way than we typically experience," she said.
The connector is one of five links Chapman said he hopes will be made to the Mountains to Sound Greenway, which would provide a connected trail from the Seattle waterfront to Snoqualmie Pass.
"If you're missing a link, then the trail system is compromised," said Lee Haro, project manager. "The more they become connected, the more biking and walking become feasible ways of travel."
The trail connection to the city center will encourage bike commuting, not only to work but also for running errands and recreational trips, said Kent Peterson, commuting-program director for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
King County will maintain the trail as part of its regional trail system.