Stakeholders from Eastrail Partners, REI, Meta, King County, City of Bellevue, Parametrix, and Zemek Construction cut the ribbon on the Northup Connector.

Eastrail Partners celebrated today the opening of the Northup Connector, a private-public partnership with $2M funding from REI Co-op, Meta, and last-in funding secured by King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. The connector ramp allows trail users in Bellevue to connect directly between the Eastrail and Northup Way, which is part of the 520 Trail that runs from Montlake in Seattle to Redmond. The connector bridge is one of several major trail connections along the Eastrail, which eventually will span 42 miles, from Renton to Snohomish – with a Spur into Redmond – and direct connections to several Light Rail and Stride stations.

“Eastrail Partners is honored to deliver this project on behalf of our funders and King County Parks,” said Katherine Hollis, Executive Director of Eastrail Partners. “Meta and REI’s historical investment in the Eastrail demonstrates their commitment to how the Eastrail creates not only transportation options for employees and communities of Lake Washington’s Eastside, but also the importance of access to nature and recreation options.”

From left: Meta VP Paresh Rajwat, Eastrail Partners ED Katherine Hollis, King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, REI CEO Eric Artz

New segments of Eastrail have opened in the past few years, including in Woodinville, Renton, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Several more projects are underway in Redmond and Bellevue.

“REI is proud to have supported Eastrail Partners since their 2019 inception to help make the Eastrail a reality,” said Eric Artz, Chief Executive Officer, REI. “We share a vision of connecting people outside and fostering community in our hometown. The 42-mile trail will improve access to transit and greenspace for all; decrease emissions by encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transit; and boost economic activity throughout the region. We’re thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside Eastrail Partners and Meta on this incredible project.”

“Connection is at the core of everything we do at Meta, especially in the communities where we live and work. We are proud to partner with REI and Eastrail in connecting communities for generations to come.”  – Paresh Rajwat, Meta Head of Office PNW. Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses.

“The new bridge replaces what was previously a narrow, unsafe but well-worn and popular informal path, a muddy testament to the public’s desire to link Eastrail and the SR 520 Regional Trail together,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “I am so grateful that now we have built a formal, safe trail connection at a critical and much-used crossroads in our regional trail system – and to do it more quickly and cost-effectively than we could ever have expected, thanks to the expertise and drive of Eastrail Partners, a generous $2 million investment from Meta and REI, and last-in funding and coordination support from King County.”

A crowd gathered to open the Northup Connector in Bellevue, underneath nearby I-405

“We’re thankful to have been able to partner with REI, Meta, and Eastrail Partners on this vital link for the community. Their financial investment, as well as their active management of the construction, propelled this critical connection years ahead of schedule,” shared Warren Jimenez, Director, King County Parks.

Eastrail Partners works to make the Eastrail for everyone, every day by convening and catalyzing wide-ranging support for a thriving trail, including important corporate partnerships like this. An Eastrail for everyone means a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible trail for anyone wanting to walk, roll, or stroll. Everyone should see themselves and their communities represented in this effort. “Every day” reflects a trail that is more than a trail: a flourishing public space that is a part of daily life connecting to transit options, nature, and communities – neighborhoods, public spaces, jobs, shops, and more.

This exciting project would not have been possible the leadership of our construction and engineering partners at Parametrix and Zemek Construction, who helped the vision for this project become a reality.

We’re thankful for our partners at the Spring District who coordinated a shuttle with Bellevue’s new Bellhop service, that dropped attendees off at the Connector.

Northup Connector in the News