It took 12 years, but the $1.8 million Edmonds link for the Seattle-to-Everett Interurban bicycle and pedestrian trail was officially opened Tuesday afternoon, marked by speeches and ribbon cutting at Ballinger Station, a landscaped rest area at 76th Avenue West and McAleer Way.
Past and present City of Edmonds, Snohomish County and Washington state elected officials, along with employees, contractors and members of the Lake Ballinger neighborhood gathered for the festivities celebrating the 1.3-mile section of trail connecting Shoreline to Mountlake Terrace.
Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling noted that the trail follows the route of the Interurban trolley line, which started in 1907 and ran from Seattle to Everett until 1939. “I always found it fascinating that the car put that rail system out of business. And we now have rail beginning to replace cars,” Earling said.
Earling also recognized the Ballinger family, who originally settled in the neighborhood in 1888 and generously gave property to the city that was necessary to complete the trail’s development. “They’ve only asked for one acknowledgement, and that is when we cut the ribbon today,” Earling said.
(According to an article in the August 2010 Edmonds Historical Museum newsletter, R.A. Ballinger, a judge and one-time Seattle mayor, purchased the island in the middle of what was then known as Lake McAlear for a $20 gold piece in 1901. He named the island for his father, and the lake eventually became known as Lake Ballinger.)
Edmonds City Council President Strom Peterson gave a shout-out to the Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group, which was represented by several members who bicycled to the ribbon cutting. Pointing to the group’s bicycle safety education efforts for Edmonds School District elementary and middle school students, Peterson called it “a tremendous program,” noting that “those kids will be able to take advantage of something like this (the trail).”
Numerous recognitions were also made by Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite. In addition to thanking the many contractors and city employees who worked on the project, she recognized the project’s Lake Ballinger-area neighbors who “put up with us through all of the design and the purchase of the easements and the right of way access and the construction of the project. It’s been a long process and we really appreciate your patience.”
Then Hite presented a small wire bicycle figure to Jaime Hawkins, the City of Edmonds Capital Projects Manager who “has worked with finesse to get this project done on time, on scope and on budget.” She also gave a similar sculpture to Earling, adding with a smile that “I hope it can live in the mayor’s office, on your desk, because as we get to budget cuts, I want you to remember how important bikes and parks and everything that brings out healthy lifestyles and quality of living will be for you.”
The completed trail link heads north on 76th Avenue West from the section in Shoreline at State Route 104, continues to McAleer Way and follows the corridor to 228th Street Southwest, where it connects with the new southern terminus of the Mountlake Terrace trail. The trail also includes a spur that connects to Mathay Ballinger Park in Edmonds.
The trail includes a .47 mile 12-foot wide paved path, landscaping, a bench, signage, a bicycle rack, a drinking fountain, a shelter and an information kiosk. Bike lanes have also been added to 76th Avenue West and bike arrows to 74th Avenue West to complete the 1.37-mile section.
The trail extension was funded through $1.3 million in state and federal grants, with the remainder from the City’s Real Estate Excise Tax and utility funding.