This conceptual drawing shows the proposed Uptown Loop (in purple) and Lake-to-Bay trail (in red)

This post has been updated with comments from council member Sally Bagshaw.

Queen Anne community group Friends of Lower Kinnear Park (FOLKPark) is leading the charge on an estimated $1.5 million redesign project in west Queen Anne's Lower Kinnear park. In addition to reforestation and other park improvements, the group is planning to rebuild and reroute the existing park path through Kinnear allowing bicyclists and pedestrians to skirt the high-traffic W. Mercer Place and connect to the Elliott Bay Trail via the Amgen bridge.

As you can (sort of) see in the above diagram, the route would begin at the Roy St. entrance to the park, parallel W Mercer Pl., go behind several businesses along 15th Ave. W, and come out directly across from the Amgen bridge on the east side of 15th Ave. (on a small piece of Seattle Department of Transportation-owned land where they've proposed to build a Rapid Ride stop). The Kinnear trail, in conjunction with the Amgen bridge, Elliott Bay Trail, and (assuming it gets funded) the Thomas St. overpass, will create an "Uptown loop" that complements the planned Lake-to-Bay trail network that will eventually connect Lake Union to Elliott Bay.

"We want to build a trail that offers bicyclists and pedestrians a safe alternative to the dangerous pinch-point at W Mercer Place and 15th Ave," says FOLKPark's Deborah Frausto. "Whatever the final design ends up being, this project will be a win-win for bikes, peds, cars, and freight."

The project is still in its early stages. According to Frausto, the group relied on a Department of Neighborhoods small improvement grant to fund their initial conceptual enhancement plan and outreach. Now they are waiting on a $100,000 matching grant from Neighborhoods to move forward with design and development, a complicated prospect thanks to topography and drainage issues in the park. If they get the money (they'll find out next month), they'll spend a year working on the design and development process as well as fundraising for the $1.5 million projected cost.

The project is supported by city council members Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen. According to Frausto, Bagshaw hosted an early stakeholders' meeting for the park, and both she and Rasmussen have worked to facilitate collaboration between the Parks and Transportation Department.

Bagshaw said that SDOT Director Peter Hahn and acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams were both incredibly responsive to her inquires about helping the FOLKPark group.

"I'm really pleased that the city departments were willing to step forward and be smart about this project," said Bagshaw. "Hahn offered to do an engineering study for their project [since SDOT has to do a study of W. Mercer Place for the W. Mercer redesign anyways] which means, at the end of the day, FOLKPark can use their money for bike paths and reforestation instead of hiring another engineer."

FOLKPark is holding a bicycle stakeholders meeting on Thursday, Sept. 23 at the Queen Anne Neighborhood Service Center. The time is tentatively set for 7-8:30 p.m. FOLKPark will have updated information on their Facebook page as the event gets closer.
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