(research.) Deb Eddy came to town in the summer of 2015 just to check out the Atlanta Beltline. By her account she was inspired – and she went home to tell her colleagues that they had to hear our story. So they invited me and Cathy Woolard, the Atlanta Beltline’s first political champion, to speak this past January in Seattle/King County at the 2016 Eastside Rail Corridor Summit. After all these years, it was our first trip together. Cathy and I ate crumpets at Pike Place Market, biked a soft-surface trail along the Kirkland Corridor, and generally wandered the wonderful and hilly streets of Seattle. Then we shared our story with the impressive crowd of doers and politicos, but as always, I’m sure we learned more from them.
This new kind of catalyst infrastructure is emerging everywhere I go, and the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) offers a special variation. It’s being made from a 42-mile historic railroad that links together all the cities on the east side of Lake Washington – Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue and several others. There are some built sections, but it is mostly still conceptual. Ultimately, various segments will include some combination of transit, trails, parks, economic development, storm-water management, and lots of public art. The most interesting part for me, however, is that Deb, who is the ERC program manager for the King County Council, and her many partners, are charting new territory here. They’re looking beyond the powerful assets and growing vibrancy of downtown Seattle to see how life-affirming infrastructure like trails and transit greenways can support suburban cities – special, smaller communities that also find themselves in the face of inevitable change. >> Ryan Gravel
Many thanks to Deb and everyone else who made us feel so welcome – link here to more information about the ERC. Additional thanks to McKayla at Cascade Bicycle Club for the loaners, and to Guy Michaelson at the Berger Partnership for a personal tour of the Central Redmond Corridor. And of course, always love for Cathy.