Parks officials look to link Eastside with an interlocking trails system

March 6, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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In the not too distant future it might be possible to take trails linking several Eastside communities. 

Renton and Bellevue parks officials updated representatives of Newcastle Trails about trails and park projects of interest to Newcastle residents at the Feb. 9 annual meeting of Newcastle Trails.

Both cities have major trail projects that are expected to connect with Newcastle’s trail system.

Leslie Betlach, Renton parks director, said that city is updating its master plan for trails, including bicycle routes. Betlach met with board members of Newcastle Trails concerning an extension of the May Creek Trail westward through Renton to Lake Washington. After visiting the site and walking the May Creek Trail, Betlach said the best solution might be to cross May Creek just southeast of the current end of the road. The current recession will likely delay such projects, she said.

Regarding a possible trail connection from the Honey Creek Trail (from the Renton Highlands along a sewer easement down to May Creek), Renton has just acquired four parcels, and continues to consolidate the ownership of the May Creek Open Space. The Honey Creek Trail may eventually be extended along May Creek to Lake Washington Boulevard, with a possible crosslink to the May Creek Trail, Betlach said.

About $1.4 million in grants were reallocated for bike lanes from Lake Washington Boulevard in Kennydale, along Logan, and around the Renton Airport. 

“This will provide Newcastle cyclists with a nice around-the-lake route and access to the Interurban Trail and the new Lake to Sound route,” she said.

About two dozen people attended the Newcastle Trails annual meeting at Bellevue Fire Station No. 9.

Asked if Renton would want to share the proposed sports park on Southeast 95th Way, Betlach said Renton received a request from Newcastle to maintain such a facility, but there were no serious discussions.

Kevin Husemann, Bellevue’s park maintenance coordinator, said a connector from the Coal Creek Trail to the YMCA now under construction in Newcastle is about 70 percent complete.

When the YMCA is completed this summer, the parking lot will be a trailhead that will accommodate much larger groups than the existing ones, Husemann said.

Four new bridges have been repaired on Coal Creek Trail this winter. Trailheads will be formalized with signs, including the new route from near the Waterline Trail and across Coal Creek Parkway at Forest Drive. Neighborhood enhancement money funded the construction of the trail paralleling the Waterline Trail that is being done mostly by volunteers, Husemann said.

“The trails are more like Forest Service trails, and they’re a little more adventurous than your typical trail, he said.

Garry Kampen, president of Newcastle Trails, said the proposed trail work will serve to link Newcastle to Lake Washington and Cougar Mountain.

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