sammamish bridge

New bridge, wider path for Sammamish trail

Originally published in Seattle Times on December 1, 2006

By Manuel Valdes
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Susan Arndt likes the glimpses of nature she gets while walking on the Sammamish River Trail. On any given day, she can see a bald eagle perched on a tree, a salmon swimming upstream or a heron snatching fish from the river.

Arndt prefers to stroll on the unpaved, gravel trail on the west side of the Sammamish River because it doesn’t get as much pedestrian and bicycle traffic as the paved path. Finishing the gravel path is one of several projects King County has planned to improve the trail.

This week, county officials celebrated the completion of a new bridge and wider, repaved pathways along a major stretch of the popular trail.

• A new $12 million York Bridge spans the Sammamish River at Northeast 116th Street in Redmond. Construction detoured trail users for more than a year as crews replaced a bridge deemed unsuitable for modern traffic flows.

We had "concerns about its ability to sustain major damage in an event of an earthquake," said Rochelle Ogershok, a spokeswoman for the county.

The bridge opened earlier this month and is equipped with sidewalks and bicycle lanes the old bridge lacked. The county also moved the trail to run underneath the bridge.

The trail was previously on the same level as the bridge, forcing joggers, bicyclists and horse riders to contend with traffic as they crossed the street. King County and the city were partners in the project, which also used federal funds.

• Between Northeast 124th Street in Redmond and Northeast 145th Street in Woodinville, crews widened the trail from 10 to 12 feet and repaved it.

"As you get more traffic, we’re trying to expand elbow room," said Robert Nunnenkamp, who supervises land acquisition for county trails. "We’re trying to get the trails upgraded and get them to be as safe as possible."

The area south of Northeast 124th Street to Northeast 116th Street is scheduled for widening next year. Connecting the unfinished gravel trail is also on the agenda.

Completing the gravel path would double the capacity of the Sammamish River Trail by allowing pedestrians and horse riders to use the "undeveloped" side and leaving the paved trail for joggers and bicyclists, Nunnenkamp said.

The Sammamish River Trail stretches 10 miles from Redmond to Bothell, where it connects with the Burke-Gilman Trail. Combined, the two trails see more than 1.2 million users a year.

Manuel Valdes: 206-464-8305 or