On Dec. 7, the King County Council authorized an agreement between King County and the nonprofit community-based organization Eastrail Partners for the funding, design, and construction of a 400-foot long trail connection between the 520 Trail Corridor and Eastrail in Bellevue.
The King County and Eastrail Partners agreement represents a significant step in a year-long effort by King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, Eastrail Partners, King County Parks, REI Co-op and Meta, formerly Facebook, to complete the Northup Connector, a currently unfinished gap that will link Eastrail and the 520 Trail Corridor together at Bellevue’s Northup Way and serve as a gateway into the City of Bellevue and its fast-growing Spring District neighborhood.
“At the crossroads of two major regional trails and the doorstep of an exciting new neighborhood, the Northup Connector will open up all sorts of new transportation possibilities for our region,” King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci said. “The agreement authorized today allows us to build Eastrail faster by leveraging the skills and expertise of our community partners. It’s a win-win for trail users, taxpayers, and King County as a whole”
In September 2020, REI and Meta invested $1 million each in Eastrail infrastructure and in November 2020 Balducci included an amendment to the King County’s 2021-2022 budget to provide the remaining or “last in” funding needed to complete the estimated $2.5 million Northup Connector project.
This innovative agreement will allow Eastrail Partners, the nonprofit established to catalyze the development and completion of the 42-mile Eastrail, to manage, design and construct the Northup Connector leveraging the expertise of its board members, while allowing King County Parks the opportunity to focus its energies on other segments of Eastrail, including the Wilburton Trestle.
“This project is a holistic example of our organization’s role in the Eastrail effort of securing private sector investment for projects and accelerating timelines for a fully connected trail,” Eastrail Partners executive director Katherine Hollis shared. “With deep board expertise in real estate and development via KG Investment Properties, SRM Development, Wright Runstad and others, we look forward to constructing and opening the Northup Connector more quickly than otherwise, with exceptional quality and effective use of funds.”
The agreement approved on Dec. 7 by Council will now allow Eastrail Partners to put the project out to bid in time for the 2022 construction season.