Issaquah-Fall City Road identified for historic recognition

A section of the Issaquah-Fall City Road has been identified by King County as having unique historic and scenic qualities deserving special recognition.

A section of the Issaquah-Fall City Road has been identified by King County as having unique historic and scenic qualities deserving special recognition.

After more than a year of on-the-road and in-the-archives research by the King County Roads Services Division, eight road corridors in unincorporated King County are being nominated to become community landmarks – an honorary designation bestowed on special places in our community.

The southeast section of the Issaquah-Fall City Road, between Duthie Hill on the Sammamish Plateau and Fall City, heads the list of historical and scenically significant stretches of road, which also includes:

• Osceola Loop (Southeast 448th Street/Southeast 456th Way) west of Enumclaw;

• Southeast Green Valley Road east of Auburn;

• Dockton Road Southwest from Tramp Harbor on Vashon Island to Quartermaster Harbor on Maury Island;

• Westside Highway Southwest/Southwest Cedarhurst Road on Vashon Island;

• West Snoqualmie River Road from northeast of Fall City to Carnation;

• West Snoqualmie Valley Road Northeast/Northeast Carnation Farm Road north of Carnation.

“We want to document the history of our King County roads to preserve important pieces of our transportation heritage,” said Linda Dougherty, director of the Roads Services Division. “This grant-funded project has allowed the Road Services Division to document the story of more than 100 years of transportation system development in our region and identify the most significant remaining corridors in unincorporated King County.”

Ruth Harvey, manager for the corridors project, said public road building in King County dates back more than 150 years to 1854, when the Territorial Legislature first authorized county commissioners to collect a tax for the construction of wagon roads and bridges.

She said many of the oldest roads in King County are now unrecognizable, due to multiple road improvement projects and decades of surrounding growth and urban development.

“But other roads, primarily in areas that remain rural, still retain tangible scenic qualities and the flavor of an earlier time,” said Harvey. “The project is giving us an opportunity to promote awareness of these routes through education, heritage tourism, and future interpretative signage. It does not result in any new regulations or restrictions for property owners.”

Harvey said community landmark designation by the King County Landmarks Commission is a way to formally recognize the new King County Heritage Corridors.

This is purely an honorary recognition that does not have any associated land use regulation.

It will not limit the county’s ability to make any necessary road improvements in the future.

Instead, future road maintenance activities or road improvement projects along Heritage Corridors will get extra attention to ensure they are as sensitive as possible to the character and history of the area.

“King County has a strong commitment to preserving our region’s past,” said Dougherty. “The King County Comprehensive Plan calls for all county agencies to inventory and be good stewards of historic properties under their control and to collaborate with the Historic Preservation Program to nominate eligible properties for landmark designation. This project is helping the Road Services Division meet those objectives.”

A report detailing the project findings and history of King County roads will be released early this summer.

Maps, photos, and other educational materials will be added to the project web site throughout 2009.

The Heritage Corridors project is a collaboration between the King County Road Services Division, King County Historic Preservation Program and 4Culture, King County’s cultural services agency.

Funding is provided through a Federal Transportation Enhancement Program grant administered by the Washington State Department of Transportation.