King County Please Stop Urbanizing our Trails
Editor, the VOICE:
Running through the heart of Maple Valley is a tranquil respite from the increasing urbanization of the Maple Valley to Black Diamond corridor. That is to change when King County Parks, despite pleas to the contrary, will spend $5,840,000 tax payer dollars to black top 3.25 miles of what is now a gravel trail. That near six million dollar figure is per the Green to Cedar Feasibility Study on the King County website.
As more and more open space disappears beneath house and road, the Cedar River trail has remained a quiet respite from the intense urbanization that it snakes through. The crunch of gravel beneath this runner’s feet is cathartic in its rhythm and blends well with the scene that passes by. Any day one can see runners, walkers with and without their canine companions, moms pushing joggers some with kids peddling along side. It is a safe place, a well travelled place, a place where our high school cross country coaches feel secure in letting their 100+ team members train in all weathers. Its soft service is gentle to the joints whether you walk or run are young or old. The sound of cyclist’s tires on the gravel surface serves as an unobtrusive warning of their approach. On icy days when the pavement is treacherous the trail’s gravel surface provides secure footing and the ability to get out into the fresh air and exercise.
What will black top mean? It will urbanize the trail, it will no longer be an escape from the development of the greater Maple Valley area it will blend with it. It will resemble a one lane road – why would that be preferable? Yes it would make it easier to ride a road bike on the trail more worrisome it would make it easier to ride a road bike, or any bike, very much faster on the trail. In 2010 an elderly woman was hit and died from her injuries when she was struck by a cyclist on the Cedar River Trail in Renton the result was the establishment of a speed limit. How well do you really think that speed limit is monitored? We are told that on either side of a 12 foot paved section of trail there will be a 2 foot wide soft trail shoulder for those who prefer not to pound the pavement. Squeezed into this meager remainder will be equestrians, runners, walkers, and dare I say some cyclists. We would dare not look around as we would risk turning an ankle by misstep on the edge of the black top while trying to navigate this narrow 2 foot strip.
We have miles and miles of paved trail in King County please let’s keep this portion gentle, let’s not urbanize it. It serves bikers, runners, walkers, people pushing strollers and wheelchairs just as it is. Perhaps a better use of the almost six million dollars would be to extend the trails’ gravel course across a new bridge over the railway line and on to Black Diamond.