Connecting the Eastside Rail Corridor part 4: Totem Lake

Today I am back to the series on Connecting the Eastside Rail Corridor by discussing the connection to Totem Lake.

Totem Lake is an area of Kirkland that will soon be redeveloped with a new mall and eventually housing. The park will be rebuilt to feature the lake itself. The city of Kirkland is counting on a revitalized Totem Lake to boost tax receipts and the area features prominently in upcoming potential transit plans. Just to the north of the mall site is Evergreen Hospital and many other medical offices.

totemlake (2)

One of the trail’s (blue line) great selling points is supposedly the great connection to Totem Lake, but it doesn’t really serve it any better than it does downtown Kirkland or Houghton. It’s 1/3 mile of arterial unpleasantness (red line) to the nearest corner of the current mall. You need to cross both 124th St and 124th Ave. The only place to do so is at their intersection which is huge and has terrible pedestrian level-of-service and typical narrow sidewalks.

Note the trail coming in from the right in this picture. You’d turn on the sidewalk to cross at the next light.

And here is the intersection in question

Then you ride on 124th Ave/Totem Lake Blvd. I rode that once and it was one of my most terrifying family biking moments (though I got a “you go girl! You got this!” from an angel driving a car).

Note the trail continuing to the right. You don’t continue on the trail here to get to Totem Lake, but stay on the street (sidewalk).

Totem Lake Blvd remains a five-lane road with no bike infrastructure as far as you need it. Here’s the mall site, ahead to the right. This intersection of Totem Lake Blvd, the on- and off-ramps to I-405, and 120th Ave NE will also need some work to be comfortable on a bike.

Kirkland has plans for a lovely sweeping pedestrian/bike overpass to a rebuilt Totem Lake Park, and a connection to the mall from there (pink line). In addition, the vision for Totem Lake Blvd includes separated bike lanes (“one way or two way cycle track buffered from vehicular traffic with a combination of vegetation and structured barrier” from the Master Plan). This should solve the problem, but the bridge adds another hill, and doesn’t make the trail any closer to the mall. I think an underpass would be a better choice here as it would involve less climbing, but it would not provide the iconic bridge the city seems to want. Plus, there is no funding, so who knows when it will ever be built? In the meantime, we are stuck with that red line. If the city is serious about bike access to the new Totem Lake, they need to fix the intersections and Totem Lake Blvd and not wait for the bridge and the park.

The most direct connection to Totem Lake from the south/west would be along the I-405 offramp (yellow line). Is there space in the right of way? I don’t know, and that’s not an easy area to scout, but there is a grade-separated crossing of 124th St.

Next: Bellevue

Previously: Houghton

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