Friday, December 1, 2017

Start planning your route: SR 520 bicycle and pedestrian trail to open across Lake Washington Dec. 20

By Ben Lennon

This is it!

In less than three weeks, the SR 520 Trail for bikes and pedestrians will extend across Lake Washington! Crews are completing the final touches on the path’s newest section over Union Bay in Seattle and at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 20, the trail will open to the public. So grab your walking shoes and bike helmets (and maybe rain jackets too) and get ready to enjoy the new connection between the Eastside and Seattle.

A long time coming
A trail across Lake Washington has long been contemplated on SR 520. When discussions about reconstructing SR 520 began in the late 1990s, the idea to include a bicycle/pedestrian path quickly gained traction. Feedback from the community during the planning stages made clear a bike and pedestrian facility should be an important part of the project.

Everyone’s welcome
The trail is designed for users of all abilities, from the casual or serious rider, to pedal-powered commuters, to walkers out to savor the sunset or gaze at Mount Baker and Mount Rainier. Along the 2.7-mile trail above the lake, you’ll find 11 viewpoints, perfect places to take a break and enjoy the scenery surrounding Lake Washington. The trail is 14 feet wide, which allows for a comfortable mix of bicyclists and pedestrians. A concrete barrier provides safe separation between trail users and the bridge’s vehicle traffic.
The view from one of the SR 520 Trail’s viewpoints

We’ve heard from a few bike riders that the cover plates on the new floating bridge’s expansion joints cause a “bump” when crossed. These half-inch-thick plates are needed to support the weight of fire trucks and aid vehicles in case of emergencies. The plates also must support the load of our large, specialized trucks that use the path for under-bridge inspections.

WSDOT’s specialized sweeper, Broom Hilda, will be utilized to keep the trail clean.


Please use caution when riding over the cover plates. We’re placing yellow paint at each expansion joint to alert path users of the plates. And for everyone’s safety, keep your speed under 15 mph.

#WhereWillYouGo?
With the trail opening in just a few weeks, it’s time to start planning your routes! To help your planning, we put together a few maps of suggested routes. All along each route, you’ll find beautiful views, open green spaces, lively neighborhoods and fantastic regional trail connections.

Maybe you’ll enjoy both of the floating bridge paths along SR 520 and I-90, and ride approximately 20 miles to finally complete the box!



Or perhaps you want to check out the north end of Lake Washington with this route, which is about 27 miles. (If you rotate it counter-clockwise and squint, it kind of looks like a shoe – okay, that might be a stretch.)



If you’re feeling really daring, might we suggest our favorite? The “520,” made up of three different routes that total about 84 miles:


Heads up – these routes are for inspirational purposes only and may not follow well-established routes. Follow at your own risk (and compass)!

No matter which way you go, we hope you enjoy this new community asset. This trail has been a long time in the making and we can’t wait to see you out crossing the lake!

24 comments:

Nancy Helm said...

Thank you, WSDOT! I am so excited to (finally) be able to use this trail.

WSDOT said...

We’re so glad you’re looking forward to it! See you out on the trail!

AliceDenison said...

Hooray! I have been commuting from Montlake to Bellevue for almost 20 years—so excited to finally do it on bicycle 🚲

WSDOT said...

We’re so glad to hear it - we hope you enjoy your new commute!

Dan C said...

Awesome! This cuts 10 miles off my commute. I am stoked! If it snows enough I might even cross country ski to work.

WSDOT said...

We’re glad to hear you’ll have a shorter commute, and way to be resourceful!

Eric Jensen said...

At the end of the video it appears that the route northbound to UW will be returning to 24th Ave E / E. Hamlin St / E. Park Dr. E and E. Shelby (past where MOHAI used to be). Is that correct?

Unknown said...

I'm a weekend leisure rider,, and the uphill from the Kirkland side to the start of the bridge is an issue. TOO HILLY! Is there anyway to lessen the grade for bicyclers? I can't imagine kids can get up these hills. Unfortunately, I might have to drive with my bike on the car to Yarrow Point or Clyde Hill, and then get on my bike. I'd like to avoid that. The Burke/Gilman trail is a lot flatter, therefore more enjoyable.


Unknown said...

Been waiting for this since ‘89!

Greg Tuke said...

All set to ride at 3pm today! This is one more important link in expanding bikes as commuting vehicles! Do you anticipate a big crowd?

David Hamm said...

This is great! I'm *so* looking forward to a big ride this weekend. Thanks WSDOT.

Don Volta said...

Thanks Steve and WSDOT - great bridge opening ride today!

Irwin Goverman said...

Can someone help me out by describing the "two bridge" trail (the 15 mile loop)? I am not clear on the east side route from I-90 to 520. Also could use some help on how to get 'off' 520 and onto the west side Arboretum trail. From then on, I think I know the route.

Thanks!

WSDOT said...

We hope you enjoy the new section of trail!

WSDOT said...

Greg Tuke - We had a couple hundred people join us at the western end – we hope you got a chance to enjoy your first trip across!

WSDOT said...

David Hamm - We’re glad you’ve already planned a trip – we hope you enjoy the ride!

Bill Kuhn said...

We walked out to Foster Island on Thursday, and the views are magnificent.

My only wish is that someone take a little time to clear the Styrofoam and other debris from the shore of the islands. This was never really visible before, and it detracts from an otherwise amazing view.

Bill Kuhn said...

What a bummer - walked on the bridge this morning (Christmas, starting at 8). The eastbound counter was dead. The westbound counter showed 12 people for the day, and 12 people for the year. When we walked on Thursday, the counters showed 684 for the day and the year. Something's amiss folks!

Hope you saved the receipt for that counter, 12/26 is a great day to return toys that didn't work as expected.

WSDOT said...

Hi Bill! We’re glad you enjoyed the view from the new SR 520 Trail. We are aware of the trash in the water/on the shore and are working on getting it cleaned up as we wrap up the West Approach Bridge North Project. You may have also noticed all the plants that still need to be planted down on Foster Island, which will also be done soon! Stay tuned.

WSDOT said...

We know the bicycle and pedestrian counter isn’t working 100% right now and we’re pretty bummed too. We’re hoping to get it fixed this week so we can have an accurate “year to date” number up there before 2017 ends. Hope to see you out there again soon!

Jason Gerend said...

Loving my new commute from Seattle to Microsoft! One glitch, however, is that there is no signage to get to the 520 trail from Eastbound Northup Way to make the left turn onto NE 24th St. First time I did it, I went straight under 520 looking for a trail, and ended up in scary traffic in Overlake before I found my way back to the trail. Can you add a sign there? Even better in the long term would be continuous separated trail from the 520 bridge east without the street sections - cycle tracks maybe? Loving the trail though!

John Clifford said...

Am I the only one who has had a close call, almost wrecking from the protruding bridge segment gap cover plates? I'm talking about the 8" wide aluminum plates that cover the gap between bridge segments, completely spanning the width of the trail every 100 yards or so. These plates protrude at least 1" above the trail, with some protruding significantly more. I rode the trail for the first time this weekend and was descending down onto the bridge after the stop with the bridge explained display, coasti g butt around 20 mph, when that first bump almost knocked my hands off of the bars! You can better believe I had a much tighter grip and made the effort to unload the front of the bike from then on!

WSDOT have any of you actually ridden this path, and if so how could you not identify these as hazards? I rode the Emerald City Ride crossing the new bridge back before it opened, and the road bed itself was much smoother at the segment joints than the bicycle path. WASDOT, you MUST address this and remove this hazard, perhaps by modifying each gap cover to reduce its protrusion to 0.5" or less, or else the liability to an injured rider due to this foreseeable hazard would be immense. Please, address it before someone gets hurt!

WSDOT said...

Hi John Clifford, thanks for your feedback about the SR 520 trail. Each cover plate is a half-inch thick and serves three purposes. The plates 1) allow the public to travel over the gaps in the expansion joints, 2) support the weight of large emergency and maintenance vehicles that need to access the trail, and 3) allow the bridge to move with changing lake levels. Our engineers looked into making the plates with lower ramping angles, but found that this would be structurally insufficient to support the weight of the emergency and maintenance vehicles.

As you note, WSDOT did not install the same cover plates on the roadway. Cover plates aren’t needed on the roadway because it is not subject to the same ADA standards. Gaps in the expansion joints on the roadway don’t pose a risk to passing cars, trucks and buses. On the shared-use path, however, the expansion joints must be fully covered to ensure that bicycles, pedestrians, wheelchairs, skateboards, strollers and pets can safely cross them. At the same time, the cover plates must be durable enough to withstand the weight of large, heavy vehicles.

In response to concerns raised about the cover plates, we’ve added signs on the bridge and warning stripes on either side of the plates.

Bill Kuhn said...

It would be great if the plates were beveled on each side, to mitigate the very jarring transition that currently exists.

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