Coming down the paved trail, bumpy from roots of the trees that cover it, a bicyclist asked the question at the heart of a tour of trails near Mountlake Terrace.
“Is this the Interurban Trail?”
Amid laughter, the resounding answer from a group of about 20 was yes. Still, the cyclist had another query.
“Then why were there no signs?”
The trail from Everett to Seattle crosses east of I-5 south of Everett and weaves under and around I-405.
At some places, the trail seemingly loses its way, like at the dead end near Mathay-Ballinger Park. That is, unless someone knows to get onto 76th Avenue W, keep going south across Highway 104 that marks the King County line, at which point 76th becomes Meridian Avenue W.
Confused? So are a lot of people, like the cyclist.
The need for trail networks and wayfinding is part of Leafline Trails Coalition’s mission for the Puget Sound region. Leafline led a ride in October to highlight trail gaps in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace as the area prepares for light rail to arrive in 2024.
The message and route was similar Tuesday, when U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen joined a small group of cycling and trail advocates.
“Maintenance is a real need in addition to construction,” coalition project manager Claire Martini said along the moss-covered trail section in Shoreline.
Chris Boucher of Brier wasn’t on the bike tour but often bikes on the Interurban Trail in south Snohomish County. He said navigating the trail north from Lynnwood is like riding on a washboard because of all the root bumps. But it also leads to a steep hill and fast traffic on Maple Road.
Getting to the Lynnwood Transit Center, about three miles from home, takes him onto streets without bike lanes or shoulders, he said.
“This is not helpful for getting people out of cars,” Boucher said.
But there could be federal money for trail projects in the years ahead.
Larsen secured $2 million in federal earmarks for Mountlake Terrace’s Gateway Plaza project. It will build a pedestrian space and trails to connect with the light rail station just north of 236th Street SW.
He also got $1 million for Lynnwood to redevelop Scriber Creek Trail, which goes southeast to the Lynnwood Transit Center and the Interurban Trail.
There’s also an annual average of $1.4 billion for trails through the Transportation Alternatives Program in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“There’s money in there for trails,” Larsen said.
His hope is a trail gets developed between Snohomish and Skagit counties.
Those projects are important to give people a safe way to travel without a car, said Washington State Department of Transportation active transportation director Barb Chamberlain. Instead of driving to a park-and-ride lot at a light rail station or other transit hub, someone could roll or walk there with dedicated paths and trails.
“We want infrastructure that’s inviting, not intimidating,” she said.
Martini highlighted the differences in noise and safety between riding on the Interurban Trail away from vehicles and being on the road separated only by paint along 76th Avenue W.
Along the trail, even where it’s shared with residents along 74th Avenue W, plenty of other people rolled and strolled.
When the group reached 76th, where the trail went onto the road next to cars, there wasn’t another rider.
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