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Bike trails win funding in Washington state budget; closing Foothills Trail gap

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Your favorite bike trail might be in line for improvements over the next couple of years after the Washington state legislature agreed to spend $15.6 million on trails in the 2015-2017 capital budget.

State funding will connect this inaccessible section of trail to the Foothills Trail in Pierce County

State funding will connect this inaccessible section of trail to the Foothills Trail in Pierce County

The bicycle advocacy group Washington Bikes reports the amount is an “all-time high,” and almost a 50% increase over the current 2013-15 funding cycle.

Executive Director Barb Chamberlain said at the Washington Bikes’ website:

“Investments in trails across the state help build local economies by attracting bicycle travelers who want safe and inviting facilities. We’re pleased that the Washington Bikes policy team was able to collaborate with legislators from both parties to bring trail funding to an all-time high in the state capital budget.”

The money goes to 17 trails located across Washington state.

Foothills National Recreation Trail

State funds will help extend Foothills Trail through this sign

State funds will help extend Foothills Trail through this sign

The biggest winner in the bunch is the Foothills National Recreation Trail in Pierce County, which received $3.8 million from Recreation and Conservation Recreation Funds and $1.7 million from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.




The $5.5 million will pay for construction to close gaps in the rail-trail that exist between South Prairie and Buckley. Separate projects will connect an “orphaned” section of paved trail that sits in the Wilkeson Creek canyon. There’s also the cost of replacing a fallen bridge. Pierce County had recently moved to gain title to private property that blocked access to the 1.2-mile trail segment, but needed funds to build trails connecting the segment.

When complete, the 15-mile main section of the Foothills Trail that rolls from Puyallup, through Orting to South Prairie, will extend all the way to Buckley for a total distance of 25 miles. In addition to providing another form of transportation to Buckley, which does not have bus service, it will improve the bicycle tourism climate to this trail that runs near Mount Rainier National Park.

Whitehorse Trail covered in ballast. Sign at left warns that trail is undeveloped and hazards exist

Whitehorse Trail covered in ballast. Sign at left warns that trail is undeveloped and hazards exist

Whitehorse Trail

Another big winner is the Whitehorse Trail in Snohomish County. The largely undeveloped rail-trail leaves the Centennial Trail just north of Arlington and follows the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River for some 27 miles to Darrington.

A portion of the trail was buried in the deadly Oso landslide in 2014. Other sections have been washed away by creeks or are inaccessible due to missing bridges.

The state is funding $1 million to design and develop trail improvements, which are expected to help further revitalize the bicycle tourism industry.

Olympic Discovery Trail

Improvements to the Olympic Discovery Trail both west and east of Port Angeles received funding.

A closed tunnel on Spruce Railroad trail

A closed tunnel on Spruce Railroad trail

The state budgeted $460,000 to a section of the trail north of Crescent Lake known as the Spruce Railroad Trail. State, federal and county projects are improving the dirt trail to pavement. One part of the program will open up a tunnel that was dynamited shut after the railroad abandoned the corridor.

Other funds will go to improve the Olympic Discovery Trail in the vicinity of Discovery Bay, located between Port Townsend and Port Angeles.

Willapa Hills Trail

Typical section of Willapa Hills Trail near Pe Ell

Typical section of Willapa Hills Trail near Pe Ell

The state parks received $582 million to improve the Willapa Hills Trail in the vicinity of Pe Ell. The trail runs for 56 miles between Chehalis and Sound Bend on the coast. Paved on either end, the trail is largely undeveloped in between with long stretches of trail covered is dirt, rocks and grasses.

Pe Ell is one of the midpoint trailheads. Improving the trail through there would certainly improve bicycle tourism.

Other improvements on the trail are reaching completion; notably installation of two bridges at Spooner Road and Dryad that were washed away by floods several years ago. Also, a long bridge near Adna will get redecking so it’s rideable.

East Lake Sammamish Trail

Phase 4 of the East Lake Sammamish Trail received $500,000. This is part of the ongoing project to pave the gravel trail on its 11-mile run from Redmond to Issaquah.

More trails

Some other important projects include the Sound to Olympics Trail on the Kitsap Peninsula and the Ferry County Rail-Trail.

Here’s a list of trail projects compiled by Washington Bikes:

Capital-Budget-Trails-2015-17-496x700

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2015/07/13/bike-trails-win-funding-in-washington-state-budget-closing-foothills-trail-gap/

2 comments

  1. Jihad

    Is that true? if it is than it’s a very very good step i should have to say.

  2. Mich

    Well if that happens, it’ll be a great step for bike riders! Bike trails will have to finish this project, they’ve taken big step and as a bike rider I’m looking forward to ride on that street.

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