Sports & Rec

East Lake Sammamish Trail construction suffers prolonged delay

Published by
Winter Chiu

With summer fast approaching, the long-anticipated reopening of the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) faces untimely delays. King County’s ELST redevelopment project was meant to increase trail stability and accessibility beginning in December 2022, but the project has faced several delays. 

Phase 1 of the project, formally known as the ELST South Sammamish B Segment redevelopment project, has been delayed three times and is now without an expected completion date. 

Peter Huie, a capital projects manager with King County Parks, cited the 2022 concrete strike as well as unworkable weather days and necessary design changes for the Phase 1 delays.

Phase 1 began in July 2021. It covers 1.7-miles of trail along East Lake Sammamish Parkway from SE 33rd Street to approximately 500 feet south of SE 8th Street. 

The project timeline involves more than simply paving a trail. Before King County could begin paving or landscaping, they first built out the trail’s infrastructure, including 52 retaining walls for slope stability and stairs to allow access to parks and private property. 

“The planning process includes a diverse team [of] designers, engineers, biologists, legal and property acquisition specialists, surveyors, landscape architects, and project managers,” Huie said.

When complete, the redeveloped trail will feature a 12-foot-wide paved surface with two feet of gravel on each side. The improvements are meant to provide increased accessibility, reduced environmental impact, and improved safety.

“Working during the rainy season presents challenges as we need to both prevent erosion on site [in addition to] installing the storm drain systems to manage stormwater around the completed trail,” Huie added.

Despite setbacks, progress continues. In addition to the retaining walls, stairs, and storm drains, completed construction between Phases 1 and 2 includes four fish-passable culverts, 2.4 miles of paved trail, and more than 23,000 new trees and shrubs planted–and those numbers are growing by the day.

Despite the delays of Phase 1, Phase 2 of the project is on track to be completed in December 2023.

The ELST is a multipurpose community trail stretching across 11 miles of King County. The trail is part of the Locks to Lakes Corridor, a 44-mile trail system that connects the Burke-Gilman Trail, Sammamish River Trail, Marymoor Connector Trail, and Issaquah-Preston Trail. These trails are part of the 500-mile Leafline Trails Network. 

When complete, ELST will provide “access to recreation, employment, and retail on a multi-use path for bicyclists, pedestrians, joggers, walkers, and movers of all ages and abilities,” Huie said.

For more information, visit King County’s ELST project page here

Sign up for the ELST project newsletter here.

Winter Chiu

Winter Chiu attends Skyline High School and is in the class of 2025. She is an education reporter for the Sammamish Independent.

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