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County, local community continue their efforts to preserve Red Brick Road

King County Road Services employees Lee Entrop (left) and Ron Bauman install the sign on the informational kiosk on 196th Avenue Northeast (the Red Brick Road). - Courtesy of Ned Ahrens and King County
King County Road Services employees Lee Entrop (left) and Ron Bauman install the sign on the informational kiosk on 196th Avenue Northeast (the Red Brick Road).
— image credit: Courtesy of Ned Ahrens and King County

In 1913, a 1.3-mile stretch of road in unincorporated King County just outside of Redmond was paved with red bricks and the Red Brick Road was born.

One hundred years later, that road still exists, and King County officials, along with the local community, have taken steps to ensure that it stays that way for a long time.

Recently, King County crews built a turnout with an informational kiosk for visitors to learn more about the Red Brick Road’s history. The road — also known as 196th Avenue Northeast — runs north-south from Northeast Union Hill Road to State Route 202 and the kiosk is located along the north end.

In addition to educating passersby about the century-old road, the kiosk was constructed using salvaged bricks that were removed when a roundabout was installed where the road intersects with Northeast Union Hill Road.

Tom Minichillo, archeologist and cultural resource coordinator for the King County Road Services division, said when they built the roundabout, they needed to get permission to remove the bricks from two entities: the King County Landmarks Commission and the National Historical Preservation Act. He said in order to be able to remove the bricks, both entities required some sort of mitigation and saw a turnout with an informational kiosk as an appropriate use of the bricks.

Tanya Rusak (above, right), who has lived on Red Brick Road for five years, said the residents along the road are very protective and passionate about the historical landmark. She said they were upset when they learned about the construction of the roundabout and that bricks hidden under Northeast Union Hill Road would be removed.

“It was a relief to us to see King County being so careful and protective of the Red Brick Road,” Rusak said. “We are working very hard as a community to come together and build strong relationships with the county to ensure the preservation of our historic road.”

Minichillo said they were able to salvage several-thousand square feet of bricks from under Northeast Union Hill Road and they only used a small percentage to build the kiosk — less than 200 square feet.

“That leaves us more for the long-term maintenance,” he said, explaining that they would use these salvaged bricks if and when sections of the road need to be repaired and/or replaced.

Rusak said the kiosk will remind people of the road’s special history and the “strength of this community, which has come together over the decades to protect this historical treasure.”

“The residents of this road are a tightly knit community that is committed to preserving the historic road and its critical habitat that supports salmon, eagles, heron and other wildlife,” she said. “We are a passionate community that is organized and actively works together to celebrate and protect this historical landmark ecological oasis and rural lifestyle among the growing urban sprawl. We are an official state landmark. It is important to the community that we share our landmark with others and we believe that the kiosk is a great opportunity to share this treasure.”

She said the landmark certification gives residents hope that they will always be able to work with King County and other governmental and private entities to preserve and protect the Red Brick Road.

Minichillo said the Red Brick Road is a unique road and was part of the Yellowstone Trail, which ran from Seattle to Boston. The road is also one of the few segments of the trail that has the same surface and uses the same materials that were used back then.

“It has a lot of the same feel to it,” he said about the road and its rural roots.

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