Letters | Let’s get looped: Idea for a new tourism route in Snoqualmie
July 11, 2012 · 9:06 AM
Prior to 2003, Snoqualmie Falls visitors—those traveling westbound on Interstate 90—took exit 27, also known as Highway 10, now North Bend Way, turning down Meadowbrook Way and continuing to Railroad Avenue and Highway 202.
This meant many visitors drove through downtown Snoqualmie, often stopping for a meal, to shop or have a look around. This traffic pattern was very important to the vitality of this small town. When the Snoqualmie Parkway was built, it became the most direct route. Signs went up at exit 25 to direct travelers to use this route, three tenths of a mile shorter. This had the effect of bypassing downtown.
Over the years, there has been much discussion regarding the revitalization of downtown, and how to encourage the many Snoqualmie Falls visitors (two million or so annually) to make their way there. Beautiful streetscape improvements were financed, designed and constructed. Signage has been placed on I-90 indicating the Historic Downtown and the Northwest Railway Museum are to be reached via the Snoqualmie Parkway. Follow-on signs direct travelers how to reach these attractions. Unfortunately, but maybe not so surprisingly, after visiting Snoqualmie Falls, drivers generally return to I-90 via the Parkway—the “Look and Leave” route, so to speak.
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Might it also be worth a thousand directional signs? They say “seeing is believing.” Might folks believe they’d like a longer visit or future return trip? They say “show me the money.” Might this be worth thousands, or more, in tourism dollars? By traveling those extra three-tenths of a mile, visitors will have the chance to see so much more of what Snoqualmie has to offer them, not just its charming historic downtown. They need an opportunity to see the amazing amount of public, nonprofit and private time, effort and money that has been invested in this place, not to mention the amazingly scenic surroundings.
So, let’s make the trip! Envision if you will a loop route starting at Exit 27 and returning over the Snoqualmie Parkway. As visitors exit on 27, they can take in a stunning viewpoint and hiking trail at Snoqualmie Point Park. As they continue down North Bend Way, they will see the Snoqualmie Casino. A new roundabout at the intersection of North Bend Way and Meadowbrook Way serves as an attractive gateway as well as the solution to a difficult intersection. Signs at the intersection of Meadowbrook Way and Railroad Avenue would indicate that just ahead is another golf course (Mount Si), an award-winning park (Centennial Field), an amazing dog park and natural area (Three Forks Park), and access to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, Snoqualmie River and Meadowbrook Farm. As visitors turn and travel along Railroad Avenue, they see the new streetscape in the Historic Downtown, the beautiful Visitor’s Center/Chamber of Commerce building, the National Register-listed Railroad Depot, Northwest Railway Museum, Railroad Park, Sandy Cove Park and the Centennial Interpretive Trail. They can visit the Falls and then return through Snoqualmie Ridge, perhaps stopping to shop or for a bite to eat before returning home.
There is so much to see and do in this beautiful place! People just need to be shown that it’s here waiting for them. Let’s share ourselves and our love for this wonderful place with them. A loop route will make sure they don’t miss out (and neither does Snoqualmie).
Wendy Thomas, North Bend