Rebuilding a mile-long section of rail-trail destroyed in the deadly Oso landslide last March has been delayed by a year.
Snohomish County officials previously had proposed to begin reconstruction of the damaged section of the Whitehorse Trail by this summer, to encourage more bicyclists, hikers and equestrians to use the trail.
Park and recreation director Tom Teigen told the Everett Herald last week that staff needs to monitor water levels in the North Fork Stillaquamish River and assess changes in topography caused by the landslide. They also need more time to adequately plan for the reconstruction and apply for permits.
The Whitehorse Trail follows a 27-mile segment of the Burlington Northern Railroad that ran between Arlington and Darrington. Even before the Oso landslide, not all of the gravel and soft-surface rail-trail was open to use.
Six miles on the eastern end between Swede Heaven Road and Darrington was open before the landslide, as well as a segment between the junction with the paved Centennial Trail just north of Arlington and Trafton.
Volunteer and paid work crews cleared brush from the trail this past summer, but several sections remained closed as more than a dozen bridges were in various stages of disrepair
Then, last month, heavy rains washed out another section of the Whitehorse Trail that fronts Deer Creek near Oso. Trail users can get around this washout using the shoulder of Highway 530.
Meanwhile, a private donor has provided the funds needed to upgrade some of the dilapidated railroad bridges on the route. The Centennial Trail Coalition reports that decking is being installed on a bridge near 127th Ave NE (the second “pushpin” from the left on above map).
Let’s hope the improvements on the Whitehorse Trail continue to help bring needed tourism dollars into this area.