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Community provides input on Cross Kirkland Corridor draft master plan
A tall tower, amphitheater, canopy walk and canyon. An “underworld skate and play,” rain gardens, pickle ball court and Olympic Mountain views along the way.
Architects with the Berger Partnership didn’t hold back as they pieced together features of each character zone to create the Cross Kirkland Corridor draft master plan.
Published in February, city officials are now reaching out to the community to get feedback.
The city held a community forum on Feb. 27 at the Peter Kirk Community Center, along with two other community planning days. Citizens have also been given the chance to provide input in the city’s “Ideas Forum” website.
“This has been a long ongoing process but in a good way,” said Guy Michaelsen, the principal of Berger Partnership, adding that the master plan process dates back to June 8, 2013.
The master plan sets the vision, Michaelsen said, not so much the final design and nitty gritty details of where each trail, wetland and bench will go.
But it does outline what could be done with the approximately 100-feet-wide corridor.
Michaelsen and his team planned the corridor to include many features, including a shared and divided trail for bikers and pedestrians, lighting, street crossings with “transition zones” and plenty of signs.
Michaelsen said the plan is “very mindful” of future transit opportunities, such as light rail, but ultimately they created the plan so that people could use the corridor sooner than the 20 years in which Sound Transit could utilize their easement.
“In the end, the thing with transit is that it will be a while before it’s a reality,” Michaelsen said. “We kept many variables out of the Sound Transit zone and designed things to be moveable in those Sound Transit zones.”
While the master plan doesn’t include parking because it’s being viewed as a transportation facility instead of a destination, it does include several portals and access points from many Kirkland neighborhoods and parks.
The plan anticipates restrooms will be available at the South Kirkland Park and Ride and the Totem Lake Park, once complete. Terrace and Crestwoods Parks are near the Cross Kirkland Corridor and also have restrooms located onsite.
Yarrow Woods will be home to the southern trailhead. Not only will it connect to the South Kirkland Park and Ride and Transit Oriented Development, but it will also connect to future State Route 520 trails. The new floating bridge will include bicycle and pedestrian access on either side, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, and will connect people to Seattle and the University of Washington.
To act as navigation icon, a tower may also be constructed at the Yarrow Woods trailhead.
As the pedestrians traverse north, they’ll be met with a Cochran Springs perch. Space between trails could allow for seating that faces toward the water, Michaelsen said.
The Northeast 52nd Corridor will act as a perpendicular access portal into an area with wetland rain gardens to treat storm water.
The draft master plan outlines a vision for “micro-porches” near the Lake Washington shipyards, which might consist of covered benches.
A Terrace Park play-slope has the opportunity to act as a corridor portal, restroom stop, play area and a space for an amphitheater. The space could be created by keeping one trail heading north but looping the other east and then northwest, creating a triangular formation.
Another corridor portal could be at the Northeast 68th Street, acting as the Houghton connection and serving as a community and commerce link as well, Michaelsen said, adding that citizens would have views of the Olympic Mountains at this point along the corridor.
“Imagine buildings that choose to face toward the corridor,” Michaelsen said.
Pedestrians will then enter the “buzz zone,” which will include the section of corridor that connects the Google campus with the second Google II project, currently being built. The portal could provide access to integrated play, a lawn area, an urban beach, basketball court and other activities. Michaelsen said Google has been an active force in suggesting design elements along parts of this section.
The Sixth Street South intersection will include rain gardens and actual gardens “blur the line between public and private,” according to Michaelsen.
The Everest Creek crossing will include lighting near the creek, wetland enhancements and a connection to Everest Park. With separated grade crossing at Sixth Street South, there’s the possibility of including an enhanced tree canopy walk near Everest Creek, a bridge that allows pedestrians to walk through trees.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Michaelsen said.
The Norkirk section could include an elevated cat-walk-like trail with gathering lawns on each side. Michaelsen said there would be an opportunity to look out over the Public Works facility. Rain gardens and storm water treatment will also be around the area.
“The Norkirk edge allows territorial views to downtown Kirkland and fairly direct connections, making it a gateway to downtown for those traveling from the north,” city documents state.
Highlands Pass and Active zone
At the end of the Highlands Pass portion of the trail, the Forbes Creek crossing meets the “Active zone.”
This “New ParMac” active zone is comprised of a light industrial area, warehouses and limited accessibility. But the master plan outlines the Forbes Creek Canyon that will act as a hub for recreational activities, such as a bocce ball, pickle-ball, basketball and horseshoes. Michaelsen said this area will have plenty of night lighting so that parents would be comfortable leaving their kids to play at around 4:30 p.m. on a December day.
West Totem Lake Connection
The West Totem Lake Connection is a relatively small part of the trail that would go underneath Interstate 405. But to lighten up the dark space, designers dream of an “underworld skate and play,” or a skate park with lighting, Michaelsen said.
The path would connect the west and east side of Totem Lake and therefore “be a catalyst to move the long-stalled re-imagining of Totem Lake forward,” city documents state.
And last but not least, the Totem Lake trail section will loop around in a sky-bridge formation, bypassing the busy Northeast 124th Street intersection. The trail will stop at the Totem Lake Park trailhead and loop around the lake.
“The proximity of major employers and large scale opportunities for development (and more major employers) make Totem Lake a critical link along the [Cross Kirkland Corridor],” city documents state.
“My thinking is that we passed a levy and people love the parks,” said Kathy Schuler, who attended the community forum. “Most of our parks are passive open space, huge canopies of 100-year-old trees. So the corridor is a different experience than the parks but maybe that’s OK.”
Schuler said when she looked at the draft master plan she noticed there was more of an entertainment factor but understands how those factors will attract families and others for a more social experience.
Rick Whitney, who was on the Park Board for nine years two decades ago, is looking forward to being able to use the corridor for biking, walking and enjoying the scenery.
“It was always my feeling that the only way we could have a significant non-motorized transportation system in the city was if we could get this route for a trail that people could use for biking,” Whitney said. “And that would be the spine from the city … You need to separate people from vehicles … People don’t like fighting traffic and risking their lives to get around the city.”
Whitney added that it will be a “huge game-changer” for how people get around Kirkland when the multimodal trail is implemented.
While most of the draft master plan is in the final stages, city officials want to know what the community’s priorities are for implementation and phasing.
The master plan is not yet funded, which includes any type of trail paving or amenities.
City staff will report back to the Council on April 1 and the third community planning day will be held on April 26.
The final Council check in will be on May 20 with a study session and then the Council is expected to adopt the master plan at their June 17 regular Council meeting.
After the Council adopts the plan, a design team will review the plan and prepare a more detailed plan for contractors. City documents state the public will be involved in this designing phase, as will partners such as Puget Sound Energy, Sound Transit and King County.
During this time, city staff will also actively seek grant funding for the project.
Construction on the graveled, interim trail will begin this June and be complete at the end of October.
For more information, visit www.kirklandwa.gov/Community/Cross_Kirkland_Corridor.htm.
Guy Michaelsen, principal for Berger Partnership, presents the Cross Kirkland Corridor draft master plan during a community forum at Peter Kirk Community Center on Feb. 27. The city is currently seeking public input on the plan before the Council adopts it in June. Raechel Dawson/Kirkland Reporter