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Columns for the new bridge over Factoria Boulevard
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Mountains to Sound Greenway connection underway in Factoria

Dave Ross asked me this question on the air Tuesday morning:

“Do you know what all that construction through Factoria is all about?”

I fumbled with the answer on the air so I decided to check the project out.

It is an extension of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, a trail that connects Puget Sound with Ellensburg. There is a nearly four-mile gap in the trail between Factoria and Lakemont Boulevard, which is closer to Issaquah.  This construction is the first phase in closing that gap.

Project manager Chris Masek with the City of Bellevue said the trail just ends in Factoria after going across I-90.

“You come off the East Channel Bridge and go under 405, and it drops you at the intersection of Factoria Boulevard Southeast and SE 36th Street,” he said. “From there, you are pretty much on your own.”

Bicyclits and walkers are forced to compete with traffic, if they want to continue.

Construction started in October to provide a dedicated path through the intersection and continue it toward Issaquah. The big question was how to separate the bikers and walkers from the cars.

“We went through a few iterations, some of them a little more complicated and a little more indirect,” Masek said. “This was the most direct solution we feel would work best and be the most beneficial for people.”

The solution is a little exotic.  It includes a 100-foot long tunnel and a bridge. The path will now go through a tunnel, under the I-405 ramps to eastbound I-90, and then over Factoria Boulevard.  This configuration eliminates the conflicts between path users and vehicles. This also helps drivers who use the I-90 exit to Factoria.

“By removing the bike facility and putting it in its own tunnel, we’re actually adding about 800 feet of capacity to the off-ramp,” Masek said. That should make that area a lot safer. During rush hour the off-ramps backs up onto I-90 eastbound, creating very dangerous conditions.

All of this work should be wrapped-up by the end of the year. Extending the trail to the Eastgate Park and Ride should be done by 2023. The final phase does not yet have funding.

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