Amazon gives $7.5M to complete bike and walking trail in Bellevue, where it is growing rapidly

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With the trestle as its crowning feature, Eastrail will eventually offer 42 miles of uninterrupted trail from Renton to Snohomish County with a spur to Redmond. (King County Image)

Amazon contributed $7.5 million to complete the Wilburton and Wilburton Trestle trail segments in Bellevue, Wash., the city just east of Seattle where it eventually plans to employ 25,000 people.

The project will connect The 85th Street overcrossing and existing east side bicycle trail system, and restore and transform the 102-foot tall, 975-foot long Wilburton wooden railway trestle built in 1904.

“Amazon’s contribution puts us over the top, providing the remaining funds we need to restore and transform the iconic Wilburton Trestle into an elevated trail connected to high-capacity transit,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“The successful partnership to add the century-old trestle to our growing regional trail network shows that we are most effective when we mobilize the efforts of public and private sectors to achieve shared goals.”

I-405 Eastrail crossing
The transformed century-old, 1,000-foot-long Wilburton Trestle will offer skyline views of Bellevue, connections to other regional trails and high-capacity transit. (King County Image)

Upon completion, the project known as the Eastrail will run 42 miles and connect a series of existing bike paths and, eventually, the four light rail stations being completed along the east side. It is part of the federal rail-to-trails program that led to the completion of the Burke-Gilman trail, for example.

The Wilburton and Wilburton Trestle segments will be completed in 2024, according to King County estimates. One potential hangup is the conversion of the existing, 117-year-old rail trellis, which is considered both a delicate and expensive engineering project.

In a statement, King County officials said upon completion the trestle will “offer skyline views of Bellevue.”

And that skyline is undergoing a renovation of its own thanks to Amazon, which effectively has made Bellevue its HQ2.

With more than 75,000 employees now in the region it calls home, Amazon has exhibited a strong desire to stretch further beyond the limits of Seattle, driven in part by disputes with the Seattle City Council over its impact on the community, and efforts by the city to impose new taxes on big businesses. In 2019, after a prior tax battle, the company announced plans to move its worldwide operations to Bellevue.

Last year, Amazon nabbed two million square feet of office space in downtown Bellevue with leases at new properties being developed by Vulcan: 555 Tower and West Main.

Amazon is also building two towers at 600 Bellevue, and announced in early March that it leased a 600,000-square-foot office building called The Artise,

Over the course of the next few years, the company is expected add a total of 25,000 employees in the city — the same amount it expects to hire in Northern Virginia, what the company originally called its HQ2.

This expansion would be in addition to the thousands of employees it already has in Bellevue — the city where Jeff Bezos originally started Amazon in a residential garage 26 years ago.

“Amazon is excited to help complete these two key segments on the Eastrail and bring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reality,” said Patrick Miller, Amazon’s director of Global Real Estate and Facilities for the Puget Sound region.

“It is an honor to be part of this public-private partnership and we appreciate our collaboration with King County and all of the public agencies involved.”

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