Plans take shape for Edmonds link in Interurban bike/walking trail

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 Seattle-Everett Interurban Train (Courtesy of the Edmonds Historical Museum)
Seattle-Everett Interurban Train (Courtesy of the Edmonds Historical Museum)

Sixty-one years after the last electric railcar traversed the shores of Lake Ballinger, the final Snohomish County link in the bicycle-powered version of the Seattle-to-Everett Interurban Line will be completed along the lake in 2010, according to plans unveiled last week by City of Edmonds planners and consultants.

Residents who live near or along the Edmonds segment of the Interurban Trail, which starts at the intersection of Highway 104 and 76th Avenue West and ends at 228th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace, had an opportunity Dec. 10 to view maps, diagrams and photos of the planned trail route at the city-sponsored meeting.

Currently, bicyclists who follow the Interurban Trail north from Shoreline are directed along 76th Avenue West, where there are no official bicycle lanes. When the Edmonds link is complete, cyclists and pedestrians will have the choice of continuing along 76th, where a bike lane will be added both east and westbound. (Parking will be alternated between the east and west sides of 76th to accommodate the  bike lane, which will be tapered in and out around the parking, according to city transportation engineer Bertrand Haus.)

Artistic rendering of the planned Ballinger Station at 76th Avenue West and McAleer Way.
Artistic rendering of the planned Ballinger Station at 76th Avenue West and McAleer Way.

Those who want a more scenic (and slower) route can leave 76th at the PUD crossing near McAleer Way, and will be able to take a breather at Ballinger Station, a landscaped rest area for users of the Interurban Trail, said Ryan Lambert of Hough Beck & Baird Landscape Architects. Highlights include a drinking fountain, an open shelter with a park bench and two interpretive historical panels that tell the story of the Interurban Trolley Line, which ran from Seattle to Everett until 1939.

A spur trail heading west from this location will also be built to Ballinger Park, using the PUD crossing at 76th Avenue West with a 12-foot trail through what is now power line right-of-way.

The McAleer Way entrance will be marked with lighted bollards and then follow a 12-foot-wide paved trail that will be built along the power line right-of-way that runs between homes just off McAleer, rejoining the street at 74th Avenue West. (A marked crosswalk and a four-way stop will be added here to slow down vehicle traffic.)

The trail will continue lakeside along 74th Avenue West, which will be paved with new asphalt and striped with a walking area for pedestrians on the east side and shared use for cars and bicycles on the west. The roadway currently varies in width from 12 feet to 20 feet, so the goal will be to widen it to 20 feet. Retaining walls will built along the route as necessary to protect trail users, Haus said.

Three sets of speed cushions (wide enough to slow cars but narrow enough to allow speedy passage of fire trucks), will be installed along this portion of the 74th as a safety measure, Haus added. Some additional lighting will also be installed but will accommodate residents’ concerns about view blockage, said Lloyd Wind of KPFF Consulting Engineers.

The entire Edmonds Interurban trail route
The entire Edmonds Interurban trail route

In the final section of the Edmonds trail, users will be directed along a now-unpaved portion of 74th (commonly referred to as an alley). That street will be paved and widened from 12 feet to 15 feet to accommodate access by bicyclists, local residents with driveways on the street, and garbage trucks. From there, the trail will exit to a crosswalk at 228th Street Southwest, and rejoin the already-completed Mountlake Terrace portion.

During the meeting, city officials assured residents along 74th Avenue West that they would contact them before starting any construction that would the impact their property, including road widening and retaining wall construction.

Construction is scheduled to start in late spring/early summer of 2010, with completion in the fall/early winter.

The City of Edmonds secured $1.3 million in state and federal grants to fund design and construction of the $1.9 million project, with the remainder coming from City of Edmonds real estate excise taxes.

For more information on the project, contact Bertrand Hauss, City of Edmonds Transportation Engineer, at 425-771-0220 or by email at hauss@ci.edmonds.wa.us.

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